13WMAZ, Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism, Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Macon Telegraph have partnered to bring you the Macon Food Story.

Over the next year, all the above news organizations will be working together to share stories on a topic that everyone is familiar with – food.

From the culture of southern food, to food access and the health of the region, we're exploring the food habits of the South hoping to answer the question: What does the food we eat say about the life we live?

To understand food insecurity, it’s important to define who lives in poverty.

For the federal government, it’s a mathematical equation.

The poverty thresholds are updated each year by the Census Bureau and adjusted for inflation using the Consumer Price Index.

  • The consumer price index, or CPI, is a measure of the average change over time if the prices paid by urban consumers for a basket of goods as service (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The official poverty definition uses income before taxes and does not include capital gains or non-cash benefits.

  • A capital gain is when you sell something for more than you spent to get it (TurboTax)

Basically, for one person, if you make less than $12,600 before taxes… you live in poverty.

$4,180 is added for each additional person in your household.

So, for a family of four, if your annual income before taxes is less than $24,600, you live in poverty.

It’s a statistical national average and it’s used to determine if an individual or family qualifies for certain federal programs like Section 8 housing vouchers, Medicaid and food stamps.