The price of fast food sometimes comes at the cost of ministry to poor children.

By September 19, 2003

USA (MNN)–Americans spend nearly 50 times as much money on fast food as they do on helping children in poverty, according to the results of a groundbreaking survey released today.

The survey also shows that half of all surveyed households indicated that in the last year they had donated nothing to causes or organizations that assist the poor.

The poll, conducted by the Barna Research Group and sponsored by Compassion International, is one of the more significant surveys on Americans’ view of children in poverty conducted in recent years.

According to the Barna survey, a typical respondent reports that his or her household spends about $240 a year on fast food. At the same time, a typical household spends only $5 year on assisting poor children. The survey shows that six in 10 Americans don’t think it’s their job to help poor children overseas.

“Although it is a disappointment that so many Americans don’t feel responsibility for children in poverty, I believe more people would participate if they knew who to trust and knew what to do,” said Dr. Wesley Stafford, president and CEO of Compassion International, one of America’s largest Christian child development organizations.

“When one sees the faces and hears the stories of children in poverty, an individual knows that every child is worth helping,” he said. “Every child deserves to have hope.”

Two-thirds of the survey respondents indicated that the parents of poor children and the government of a child’s country should bear “a lot” of responsibility to help poor children. Only 13 percent felt that individuals should have “a lot” of responsibility.

Stafford said the Barna survey indicates that Americans need more understanding of the nature of poverty. “It is estimated that half of the world’s population-more than three billion people-are under the age of 25. About the same number live on less than $2 a day. I believe Americans are a very giving people,” Stafford said. “They want to help – they just don’t know the extent of the problem, who to trust or how they can get involved.”

Compassion International is committed to informing people so they can become part of the solution for so many children who have so many needs.”

Stafford noted that, according to the Barna poll, a majority of Americans embraced the notion that one person really can make a difference in solving poverty for one child. Seventy-two percent of respondents agreed with that statement. He noted that solving poverty one child at a time is the entire premise of Compassion International’s ministry.

“That is a hopeful statistic. People want to help and believe they can help,” Stafford said. “Organizations such as Compassion must educate people about the opportunities that are available to attack poverty at its root.”

“Americans should consider how to ‘step up’ their level of commitment and financial involvement,” said David Kinnaman, vice president, Barna Research Group. “This survey should cause people to consider, ‘How actively are we engaged in helping needy kids?'”

The Barna OmniPoll included 1,002 telephone interviews conducted among a representative sample of adults over the age of 18 within the 48 continental states. The survey has a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Compassion International is one of the nation’s largest Christian child development organizations, working with more than 65 denominations and many indigenous church partners in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Since 1952, Compassion has touched the lives of more than a million children. For information about sponsoring a child, contact Compassion via its web site ( or by calling (800) 336-7676.

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