Child Poverty in America Ranked 2nd Highest in Industrialized Nations

child poverty


In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the current epidemic of Child Poverty in the US.

America 2nd Highest Child Poverty Rate in Industrialized World

The U.S. Census reported last month that 1 in 5 children are on food stamps. That means, a total of about 15 million U.S. children are living below the poverty level. That’s only a total of $24,000 in annual income for a family of four. This highlights the sad fact that the U.S. is ranked second for having the highest level of child poverty in the 35 industrialized nations. The question is, are we making progress?

Before the housing crash of 2007, a total of 1 in 8 children were receiving food stamps. So, it would appear we have made progress seeing how those numbers are down. However, in 2014 a total of sixteen million children received food-assistance program benefits compared to only nine millions in 2007. What is the impact of these startling statistics?

Impact of Child Poverty in the U.S.

What is so alarming about these statistics, is that the top 1% of American income earners are on track to own most of the world’s wealth by 2016. Yet, we only out rank Romania when it comes to child poverty? Let’s examine the implication of child poverty has for the future of our country.

The implications associated with child poverty cost a total of 3.8% of the GDP. That is roughly a half a trillion dollars a year. This is because of lost productivity, as well as health and crime costs.

Since 2007, the rate of children living with married parents who receive food stamps has doubled! This clearly shows that the problem, if not addressed, will only substantially get worse. We must do something.

Relieving Child Poverty as a Country

We can no longer turn a blind eye to this topic. The astronomical income gap is making it too apparent that some families are disadvantaged, and their children will need help. If you look towards our capital, there are huge debates on the solution. Both sides want the solution, but are unable to work together on the solution. We must advocate for these little ones in hunger. They, after all, are our nation’s future. If we do not find a way to alleviate these statistics, more children will grow up disenfranchised. That will lead to more cost to the government in the future due to likely costs from crime and poverty relief.

If we can learn to work together, we could be on our way to healing our nation as a whole. Individually, we all can make a difference by working with various charitable organizations that help feed hungry children, whether you donate your time or volunteer. You can also get involved in the political process, by writing you representatives and asking them to take action. There is no reason that a nation as great as America should be ranked second in child poverty.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

(Julian Omidi, along with his brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, and mother, Cindy Omidi, are philanthropists who founded various charitable organizations including No More Poverty.)


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Are You Properly Caring for Your Heart?

American Heart Month

In today’s blog post, Julian Omidi highlights American Heart Month and gives tips on taking care of you most important muscle.

February is American Heart Month, which is a great opportunity to educate the public about the risks of heart diseases, learn how to prevent it and save lives.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) – heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure – is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.  According to The Heart Foundation, approximately 1 million Americans die every year from heart disease, about 1 in every 4 Americans, more than any form of cancer.  In 2008, the disease cost the U.S. an estimated $448.5 billion in healthcare services, medications and lost productivity.  By 2020, heart disease will be the leading cause of death throughout the world.

The disease is 80 percent preventable with education and lifestyle changes.  The main risk factors in heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. To lower the risk of heart disease:

  • Watch your weight
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthy

For more information visit:

Throughout the month of February, there will be many events to raise awareness of the disease and promote healthy behaviors.  You can also do your share to spread the word:

  • Wear red on Feb. 6, National Wear Red Day, to raise awareness about heart disease in women.
  • Encourage co-workers, friends and family to make healthy dietary changes.
  • Encourage physical activities in your child’s school.
  • Get an annual physical exam.
  • Participate in community events to raise awareness of heart disease or donate to help find the cure.

American Heart Month - Go red!

(For more on American Heart Month, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.)

Julian, along with his brother, Michael Omidi, and mother, Cindy Omidi, has established a number of charities to help people and animals live better lives.

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Je Suis Charlie?

Omidi Family Je Suis Charlie

Julian Omidi writes about the recent shooting in Paris, France. The victims were journalists and cartoonists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

In the wake of shooting at the Charlie Hebdo office, emotions are stirring in France and around the world. The shooting in Paris occurred on Wednesday. Two masked, heavily armed men entered the office during an editorial meeting and opened fire, killing two policemen and ten journalists.

The satirical magazine is notorious for offending religious communities. Muslims around the world protested several cartoon depictions of their prophet that Charlie Hebdo published. The shooting was allegedly in response to the way the magazine has portrayed Muslims. Witnesses told police one of the gunmen shouted, “We have avenged the prophet. We killed Charlie Hebdo.”

Earlier today, the two men responsible for the Charlie Hebdo shooting and another were killed after taking a hostage. They can no longer instill fear into the communities of Paris.

Words and violence

Charlie Hebdo tried hard to offend nearly any group of people. Self-described as “Journal irresponsable” (irresponsible magazine), it is an equal opportunity offender. They have taken shots at the right, the left, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, and nearly any other group you can think of. They used words and symbols, which can hurt, but words never require a violent response.

The old nursery rhyme, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” comes to mind. It is used to convince taunting victims to refrain from physical retaliation. It reminds them that words do not physically harm anyone and to choose appropriate responses to provocation.

Charlie Hebdo certainly is guilty of provocation. But civilized societies have no place for this type of response to cartoons. Are the remarks and cartoons of Charlie Hebdo civil? That is certainly up for debate, but the actions of these murderers are most certainly not.

Where do we go from here?

You’ll probably see articles and comments from your friends on Facebook about this most recent tragedy and the events that inspired it. People are claiming the magazine has some responsibility in the shooting because of the nature of the views they expressed.

Should people in free societies be allowed to publicly humiliate large groups based on their beliefs? That, too is up for debate. One thing is certain: Free societies cannot let murderers dictate what can and can’t be said. The fear of violence should not determine what people can or cannot say.

How do we go on from here? Do we put an end to offensive speech? In an ideal world, maybe. But we don’t live in an ideal world. We should aim for the standard of knowing what we say could attract violence, but speaking out as though there is no threat. This is the nature of courage.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi and the Omidi family, Cindy Omidi and Dr. Michael Omidi, are founders of several charities aimed at improving lives for humans and animals around the world.

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Starbucks to Change Policy on Animal Products



In this entry, Julian Omidi discusses the new Starbucks policy that is causing American businesses to think twice about animal welfare.

Many Americans begin their day with a Starbucks coffee and breakfast. People choose Starbucks because of their quality coffee and ethical business practices. According to their own website, in 2013, 95 percent of their coffee was ethically sourced through C.A.F.E. Practices, Fairtrade, or another externally audited program.

A recent company publication indicates that Starbucks will phase out eggs from caged chickens as well as pork products from pigs raised in gestation cages. The company is trying to figure out an appropriate timeline, but it has made a clear move toward a more sustainable business model. They haven’t released a time when cage-free eggs and pork raised outside of crates will be made available.

Outside Pressures to Change

Those concerned with the ethical treatment of animals have had a beef with Starbucks for some time. A group called the Humane League gathered over 100,000 signatures on a petition criticizing Starbucks for sourcing “the vast majority of their eggs from cruel battery cage farms.” They were calling for cage-free eggs to be used in all baked goods sold by the chain.

The group’s video pointed out that seven venti Starbucks cups can barely fit inside the space a hen spends her entire life in on some of the Starbucks farms. That comparison probably struck a chord with the chain’s patrons. Starbucks was founded on the principle of “standing for something more,” which is probably why they receive more scrutiny from the public than other franchises.

The policy change comes at the same time relevant California legislation takes effect on Jan. 1. The new laws mandate cage-free production and sale of eggs within the state. Nearly one-fifth of Starbucks stores in the U.S. are located in California.

A Game Changer for Animal Welfare

Though Starbucks is a single company, it is a $61 billion enterprise. Changes they make will ripple throughout their supply chain, having a large effect. The Humane Society’s director of food policy, Josh Balk, called the move a game changer.

The impact of this policy change will be felt far outside the walls of your local Starbucks. An industry leader moving forward on sustainable production will likely influence the entire industry. The future is looking better for animals all the time.

Thank you for reading,

Julian Omidi

The Omidi Brothers, Michael Omidi and Julian Omidi, are cofounders of several charities, including No More Poverty, The Children’s Obesity Fund, and Animal Support. Their work supports the betterment of creatures large and small.

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Keep Your Holidays Healthy

Julian Omidi Holiday TipsIn this entry, Julian Omidi discusses some health hazards to be mindful of during your upcoming holiday celebrations.

The holidays are a magical time with family, friends and cheer. I don’t want to be a Grinch, but ‘tis also the season to be extra mindful of your health. There are some holiday hazards that can be avoided so you and your loved ones can celebrate for years to come.

We tend to stray from our normal routines during this time of year. New cooking techniques, different foods, decorating materials and their methods can pose some risks. And that’s before the rest of the family gets there! I composed a list of some things to remember so your holiday celebration will come off without a hitch.

Holiday Food Factor

When visions of sugarplums are dancing in your head, it can be hard to think about calories. Unfortunately, the holidays are a time for chocolate, sugar, fat and salt. All of which should be used in moderation. Try to put an equal amount of healthy and sweet snacks out for your guests.

Don’t let anyone drink too much, either. Sure, alcohol is full of empty calories, but it can also lead to some awkward moments at family gatherings. If people drink, encourage them to eat some food first. Drinking on an empty stomach is asking for trouble.

You won’t avoid the extra calories that come with the season. Don’t expect to. You can help to lessen the damage by adding some exercise to your day. Take a walk with your family and enjoy each other’s company along the way. If the weather allows, play a game outside.

Other Holiday Dangers

Julian Omidi Tips for the Holidays
Eggnog and cookies are one type of danger, but there are some holiday hazards that could be much worse. Always be mindful of possible dangers to guests of all types, including children and pets.

Holiday decorations can be filled with tasty looking pieces that come off easily. Don’t let children or pets chew on things that could become lodged in their throats or are toxic. That’s right, toxic. Holly and mistletoe are poisonous, so you may not want to deck the halls with the real stuff if you’re going to have children or animals over.

Choking on food is also a possibility. Make sure to take small bites and chew slowly. Know how to perform the proper emergency techniques if someone shows signs of choking.

Use caution when decorating. It isn’t often you are running garland along your ceiling. Secure your stepstool or ladder on level ground and stay centered. Decorate with a helper if only to make sure you aren’t alone if you fall.

Of course there is the possibility of your tree catching fire. You might be thinking, “That old chestnut?” But, between the years of 2007-2011, fire departments in the U.S. responded to an average 230 house fires that began that way. It is no joke. An average of 6 people a year died over that same time.

Relax. If you experience high levels of stress, let someone know. Things will never be perfect. Your guests, friends and family members know that. Enjoy the time you have with them and forget about the performance.

The holidays are a time for happiness. Use your head and make sure your house is a safe and healthy environment for everyone in it. With some forethought, your celebration will be one to remember.

Keep your sleigh bells ringing,

Julian Omidi

The Omidi Brothers, Michael Omidi and Julian Omidi, are cofounders of several charities, including No More Poverty, The Children’s Obesity Fund, and Animal Support. Their work supports the betterment of creatures large and small.


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Government Programs Reduce Poverty

Julian Omidi discusses government programs

Today, Julian Omidi discusses an interpretation of new data from U.S. Census data on poverty levels in the nation. It seems government safety nets are doing some good.

You often hear debate about whether certain government programs do anything worthwhile. Most of the time it is just baseless speculation.

A new study from PEW Charitable Trusts offers some real data from the U.S. Census Bureau to shed some light on the subject.

Social Security, food stamps, unemployment benefits and earned income tax credits all seem to have an effect on the poverty level. Some of the study’s findings include:

  • The official poverty rate in the U.S. was 14.5 percent (45.3 million people)
  • Without food stamps, the poverty rate would be 17.1 percent (an additional 8 million people)
  • Without Social Security, poverty rate for Americans 65 and over would be 52.67 percent instead of 14.6 percent currently
  • Without programs like earned income tax credits, poverty for children under 18 would be 22.8 percent (19.9 percent currently)

These numbers are staggering. Consider what America would look like if each of these programs were removed or cut back significantly. That is what safety nets are for. No one wants people to live in poverty, but America continues to have problems with income inequality.

The great poverty divide

In the current political debate on poverty, both sides have answers, but they seem to be coming from opposite directions. Those on the right wish to see these programs cut or changed, and those on the left wish to see them improved, for the most part.

Most Americans are somewhere in the middle. Some reform is certainly necessary, but these programs are helping people currently. How can we improve things and make sure no one slips through the net while curtailing abuses? This is one of the most difficult questions of our time.

We can certainly use some better metrics on the matter. Census information only considers income level to determine whether someone is under the poverty level. This doesn’t include things like food stamps and other programs that help people.

In 2010 our government introduced the supplemental poverty rate, which considers consumer spending on necessities like shelter, food and utilities. Someday this measure may be used as to determine assistance levels. It has the potential to reign in abusers and find those eligible people who need help.

Things keep getting better, as a whole, for all of us. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continually try to improve. Look for solutions and not ammo. Our public discourse will be much better off.

Thanks for reading,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi and his brother, Michael Omidi, are co-founders of No More Poverty, a charity committed to the eradication of income inequality.

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Poverty Rates in Los Angeles Greater than National Average

The state of California’s poor

Julian Omidi talks about poverty in Los Angeles

Julian Omidi talks about the ongoing issue of poverty. Here, he examines the alarming poverty rates in Los Angeles County.

The U.S. Census bureau has released new estimates that show poverty is more widespread in Los Angeles County than in California or the U.S. as a whole. Eighteen percent of people in LA County live below the poverty line. This isn’t a new development, but rather a lingering reminder of just how bad things are for the area’s residents.

Poverty rates are even worse, a staggering 20 percent, for county residents who were born in another country. The foreign-born often have a tough time finding work due to language barriers and a lack of social support systems. Los Angeles County is home to many unskilled immigrants who are forced to live on the economic fringes of society.

California’s poverty rate was reported at 16 percent, while the overall number for the U.S. is 15 percent. The country has been slow to pull out of the recent recession and still needs job growth. The national unemployment rate is near 5.9 percent, though California’s has stayed above 7.3 percent. The state’s poverty rate likely won’t improve much until the national economy begins to grow.

What does this mean for LA County and California?

LA County has suffered with chronic poverty for decades. Government programs help many citizens get what they need, but often fall short. High housing costs in the area make it difficult for poor people to find affordable homes and apartments.

High unemployment rates create a large group of people starved for work. These people are likely to settle for lower pay, driving local wages down or keeping them stagnate.

People in poverty tend to experience higher levels of stress, which makes logical sense. If you have your needs met, you have less to worry about. It’s a simple as that. These problems are not purely economic in nature. The health of our communities is at stake. Money problems can quickly turn into housing and nutrition problems.

My brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, and I founded No More Poverty to help alleviate some of these issues. These problems are close to our hearts and we want to do what we can.

While government programs do help the less fortunate, they cannot do it all. Find a charity or food basket near you and help out however you can. If you’re concerned about poverty, vote for politicians who share your concerns. Together, we can make a difference.

Thanks for taking the time to read about this important issue,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi works with a number of charities. No More Poverty was established by Julian and Dr. Michael Omidi to support individuals and charities making a difference.

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Culling of Kangaroos in Canberra, Australia


Julian Omidi discusses the culling of kangaroos in the Australian city of Canberra.

Whether it stems from global warming or just unpredictable meteorological phenomena, occasionally, climates will become inhospitable in the form of draughts, floods or freezing weather.  These changes can – and often do – result in the deaths of various species of animals and the overpopulation of others.  When floods of animals overrun their environment because their natural predators have been extinguished, they will starve to death, or spill into human territories.  Recently, the flood of kangaroos in the Australian city of Canberra, and opinions differ strongly over how to handle it.[1]

Should the residents cull the kangaroo population?  Will this prevent the torturous starvation and physical danger of the animals, or is it a cruel solution, not based on science but on the desire to hunt helpless animals?

Canberra is known for its easy proximity to wild kangaroos.  Rather than trek to the outback, tourists can often see a healthy kangaroo population right on the sidewalks.  The ‘roos are on residents’ lawns, in parks and golf courses.  However, human and kangaroo encounters aren’t always peaceable.  Kangaroos can be highly aggressive when frightened, and they have tremendous strength.  Citizens have been beaten and scratched by rogue kangaroos, and the kangaroos will occasionally break into people’s homes.

When animals are driven by hunger and thirst from their natural environments and into neighboring cities, they don’t necessarily behave with caution.  Many are highly stressed, starving and sick.  They will act desperately and aggressively, and are a greater threat than they would be if they were well fed and otherwise healthy.  Seeing a kangaroo in your front yard isn’t always charming; it can be quite dangerous.

Territory and Municipal Services minister Shane Rattenbury, backed by Australian National University professor and conservation expert David Lindenmayer, is advocating culling 1,600 kangaroos in order to stave off over-grazing and save the resources for other small mammals.  The culling would be achieve by shooting, which, while not 100 percent clean and accurate, is nonetheless the most efficient method for killing wild kangaroos.

Australian animal welfare advocates are rallying against this cull, saying that the shooting of over a thousand kangaroos is a deceptively cruel solution.  One reason being that, being marsupials, they carry their young in pouches, which can conceal the offspring from sight.  Once the mother is killed, an underdeveloped joey could die shortly after.  Also, it is very difficult to shoot a kangaroo cleanly, since it is incredibly fast, and tends to spring up and down at the slightest disturbance.

There are no easy solutions to this problem.  It is incredibly difficult for humans to either morally or ethically make decisions best left to nature, so we often, by necessity, defer them in order to offend nobody.  Of course, this strategy fails to address the question, which is more humane: Allowing an overpopulation of animals starve, grow sick and die in agony, or indiscriminately kill them by the thousands?

By Julian Omidi 


[1] Neubauer, Ian Lloyd: Animal-Welfare Groups Hopping Mad Over Canberra’s Kangaroo Cull Time Magazine 5/27/2014 http:// time .com/115385/animal-welfare-australia-canberra-kangaroo-cull/

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“Fed Up” – New Documentary About Childhood Obesity


Julian Omidi discusses the new documentary film “Fed Up,” which is about the obesity healthcare crisis, particularly childhood obesity.

The food industry is making us fat, according to a recently released film exposé.  “Fed Up,” a 90-minute documentary by the team of filmmakers who produced “An Inconvenient Truth,” explores the food industry practices that could be actively contributing to our current obesity health crisis, with particular emphasis on the toll both the practices and the crises are taking on children.  Even products marketed as being “low-fat” are misleading and contributing to the problem, since they contain more sugar than their full fat alternatives.  It is the world’s addiction to sugar that is causing the massive obesity epidemic, but the food manufacturing industry is nevertheless wholly reluctant to yield.[1]

The Grocery Manufacturers Association and other major organizations in processed food production have a tremendous amount of political influence, which not only affects the foods sold in the United States, but also all over the world.  According to the documentary, in 2003, the Bush administration stopped the publication of a World Health Organization report that advocated the calories in the human diet contain no more than 10 percent from added sugars with the threat of pulling all funding.

The federal program to combat childhood obesity, “Let’s Move,” might also have felt the power of food manufacturing lobbying interests.  Again, the documentary posits a theory that the presidential administration could have been influenced by the food industry, and moreover may have backed down from making meaningful changes.  While the beginning of the anti-obesity initiative seemed to promise that childhood obesity would be attacked from every direction, the food industry wanted to appear to partner with the “Let’s Move” program, which would have taken off much of the outside pressure to significantly change its manufacturing and marketing strategies.

Among other revelations from the film, childhood bariatric surgery as an anti-obesity option is being discussed and even embraced by the medical industry.  While the idea of performing surgical weight loss procedures on teenagers would have once filled medical professionals with horror, today it isn’t uncommon.  The adolescent obesity problem is so severe that many medical professionals and parents are willing to risk the potential for nutritional deficiency in growing teenagers by agreeing to gastric bypass surgery.

Ultimately, the convenience food industry has effectively changed the public mindset about what real food and convenience are.  Since we’ve convinced ourselves that cooking whole foods is more expensive in terms of time and money, is it possible for us to disengage ourselves from prepackaged foods and go back to preparing food from scratch?  According to “Fed Up,” we might have to sacrifice a bit of time and comfort in order to ensure our own health and the health of our children.

Once we’ve gotten used to relying upon ourselves for our food and not large corporations, we might be able to combat obesity in an effective and enduring way.  This new film might be provocative and even divisive, but if it asks us to ask difficult questions about ourselves, our habits and our futures, it can only lead to more discussion on a critically important topic.

By Julian Omidi


[1] Morgan, David: Documentary: “Fed Up” With Rising Childhood Obesity CBS News 5/9/2014

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Animal Testing for Cosmetics in China


Julian Omidi discusses China’s new initiatives regarding animal testing in cosmetics.

Although historically, China might not exactly have its hands clean when it comes to the safety and well-being of rhinos[1] and elephants, it is beginning to make significant strides in terms of its tolerance of animal testing in cosmetics, something that even the United States government has, as yet, been unable to do in a meaningful way.

Animal testing in cosmetic products has become anathema in the Europe.  The European Union, in fact, enacted a law in 2013 forbidding the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. However, China hasn’t had the same active abhorrence for animal testing that many other nations has, and has only recently begun to question its methods for testing common products.  Until recently, there haven’t been any non-animal related testing procedures for cosmetics firms in China, and imported products that weren’t tested in accordance with their own procedures can’t legally be sold.  However, China’s Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it was beginning its own non-animal testing training program, and in June of 2014 will begin to allow the manufacture and sale of domestic “non-specialized” cosmetics whose ingredients have undergone European Union non-animal safety testing.[2]

Because of China’s regulations regarding the sale of non-animal tested cosmetics, some corporations that had previously abandoned animal testing began to again use animal testing methods to satisfy Chinese official safety standards.  While the new regulations do not yet relax the criteria for imported products, ultimately, if the new standards prove successful, China may open the door to the importation of non-animal tested products from Europe and elsewhere.

However, China’s history of animal testing to the exclusion of all other methods has the scientific and animal welfare community concerned that it may not be able to effectively conduct newer tests.  The new regulations specify that the laboratories will only be able to conduct non-animal tests if they possess the requisite expertise on par with that of the European Union and other established alternative testing laboratories.  Unfortunately, it seems that Chinese laboratories are still far from achieving this standard.

The new regulations are a turnaround from the attitudes expressed by Chinese officials as recently as 2012, when the animal testing standards were broadened to include animal testing on certain over-the-counter skin treatments.

Hopefully, China’s burgeoning acceptance of non-animal cosmetics testing will spark some new regulations in the United States, where cruel and unnecessary animal testing still occurs.  Even though more accurate data can be compiled from cosmetic testing through donated human tissue samples (which is also cheaper and faster), laboratories continue to torture animals for the production of soaps, shampoos and anti-aging creams.  If stopping animal cruelty isn’t enough, shouldn’t the significant monetary savings be an enticement, at least?

By Julian Omidi


[1] Hongqiao, Liu: China’s many roles in the illegal rhino horn trade 12/16/2013 China Dialogue

[2] Huang, Shaojie: Interest Grows in Animal Testing Alternatives 5/2/2014 New York Times

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