Kids in poverty seek "better place" for parents

COMPTON, Calif. - Twelve-year old Crystal Montes comes to a Compton school five days a week for a free lunch. It's served by the non-profit Los Angeles regional Food Bank to children in a neighborhood where 90 percent come from families with incomes below the poverty line: $23,350 a year for a family of four.

"When my uncle is busy and my mom's at work, we come to lunch, so that way we won't be hungry a lot," Crystal tells CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker.

These children are the face of the growing trend. Based on markers such as infant mortality and teen births, the study found child poverty rose in 38 states between 2000 and 2009 where poverty hits children hardest (one in four children and more) - a wide arc of states, mostly across the American South.

Study: 1 in 5 U.S. children live in poverty

The recession has made matters much worse - affecting kids like 14-year-old Jose Gallardo and his six siblings. His parents?

"Sometimes they don't have much work," Jose says. "My parents don't have a lot of money and sometimes not enough to pay the rent."

Nevada has the highest percentage of children whose parents are under or unemployed. Here, 13 percent along with their parents have been kicked out of housing because of foreclosure.

This survey ran through 2009. Since then, many recession-wracked states have cut their budgets, many making deep cuts to programs for the poor, which means child poverty has likely gotten worse.

Children who grow up in poverty are more likely to be unemployed adults. But poverty hasn't dimmed Jose Gallardo's dreams for the future.

"I hope it works out," Jose says. "I want to be an FBI agent. I would help my parents get a better place."

Meanwhile this L.A. food program keeps growing. They served 3,000 kids a day last year. This year it's grown to 3,500 a day.

  • Bill Whitaker

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