LSA Takes Part in Poverty Simulation with Members of Congress

Role-playing helps legislative leaders feel the stresses of surviving in poverty
Thursday, July 17, 2014

On Tuesday evening, July 16, Lutheran Services in America joined Catholic Charities USA, Entergy, and other collaborators in the Future Without Poverty coalition to put on a poverty simulation for members of Congress and their senior staff in the Capitol Visitors Center. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-N.Y.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) co-sponsored this bipartisan event that hosted nearly a dozen House members. Many of the members of Congress who attended stressed the importance of trying to understand the difficulties that low-income families face in order to effectively combat the War on Poverty.

During the simulation, LSA joined other volunteers in the simulation to play various roles in the make-believe town, such as the supermarket, the school, and the department of social services. The House members and their staff learned a fraction of the realities of living in poverty as they tried to survive four weeks in simulated poverty. LSA's CAPS Fellow from Valparaiso University, Caleb Rollins, served as a volunteer, playing the role of a case worker.

All of the participants and volunteers debriefed after the simulation and discussed the challenges they met in trying to provide the basic necessities of nutrition and healthcare for their families. Many of the volunteers who worked at places like the department of social services and the community action agency regretted that they could not do more for their clients.

Through assisting with this poverty simulation, LSA helped members of Congress and their staff understand why Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) remarked, "Poor people are the hardest working people in America." This is the reality of poverty that our members know and seek to address on a daily basis, and LSA joined others charitable organizations to share this reality with lawmakers in Washington. 

To learn more, read the Washington Post's coverage at:

You can also follow the conversation on Twitter at #TalkPoverty and connect with LSA via @LutheranSvcs.  

By: Caleb Rollins
Development Fellow
Lutheran Services in America