Awareness, Understanding, Perspective, Change

Let’s start with a pop-quiz: 

  1. The yearly income level for a family of four to qualify as “at the poverty level” is $_______.
  2. Minimum wage in Iowa is $ ______. 
  3. A person working 40 hrs/week, earning $14/hr would make approximately ________ dollars per year. 
  4. T/F A household of 4 people making a yearly income of $38,000 qualifies for free lunch at school.
  5. ____ % of students in my school district receive free or reduced price lunches

(answers below)

This is part of the ice breaker we use before we begin facilitating The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS).

If you’ve never participated in a poverty simulation, it is an interactive experience in which folks try to survive the day-to-day realities of living with a low income. The goal is to survive for one month. The month consists of four 15-minute weeks. 

The purpose of a poverty simulation is to sensitize people to the realities of living with a low income. Poverty is a reality for millions of individuals and families living in the United States and unless you’ve lived it, it’s difficult to truly understand. 

Our team at Next Step hopes to promote awareness, increase understanding, transform perspectives, and inspire local change while facilitating the poverty simulation. 

To learn more or inquire about bringing the poverty simulation to your organization or workplace, please reach out to Shelly


  1. $27,750
  2. $7.25
  3. $29,120
  4. False, they make too much. The cut off is $36,000; however, they would qualify for reduced price lunches. Income eligibility guidelines can be found here.
  5. Click here to find your local (Iowa) district.

Individuals gathered in a circle discussing their experience during the poverty simulation

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