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Feel The Sticker Shock Of Someone Who Lives In Poverty

Enter your salary on this website to see what it's like for people in poverty to buy milk.

Imagine if instead of $4.88 per gallon, your milk suddenly cost $24.40. It hurts, right? Well, that’s how buying everyday necessities can feel for families in poverty.

An ad campaign called Poverty Line Prices, launched last month by San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit Tipping Point Community and ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners, shows how the cost of basics, such as bus fare and milk, would feel if you were living on the poverty line, according to a news release.

For instance, if a gallon of milk costs $4.88, that’s about 0.02 percent of the annual income of someone living on the poverty line in the U.S, defined as $24,257 per year for a family of four. The ad multiplies the milk’s price by five, so it eats up the same proportion of a typical income in the San Francisco area of about $121,000 per year after taxes (the city’s average salary is about $107,000, reports the San Jose Mercury News). Suddenly, a gallon of milk costs a whopping $24.40.

The goal is to make people feel just how much buying everyday items would hurt if they were living in poverty.

“Every day, more than one million Bay Area residents are forced to choose between putting food on the table and paying the rent, buying medicine and paying for school books,” Daniel Lurie, founder of Tipping Point Community, says in the release. “Lack of financial resources is just one of the many challenges facing those living below the poverty line.”

About 13.5 percent of Americans were living in poverty last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And in San Francisco, the rising cost of living has left many families struggling to get by.

On an interactive website built for the campaign, you can enter your own salary to see how much the price of everyday items, like toilet paper and medicine, would increase if they were to reflect the proportion of your income these purchases would consume for someone living in poverty.

Entering a salary of $50,000, the price of toilet paper about doubles from $3.46 to $6.54, and the price of rent goes from an already pricey $3,440 to $6,548 per month.

The group took the experiment one step further by conducting it live in a grocery store in the Nob Hill neighborhood and filming it. As items are rung up at the cash register, the totals are inflated to reflect the five times higher cost of items for people living in poverty in the area. Needless to say, customers are outraged.

“I mean, I come here all the time,” one woman says in the video. “That tea is not fucking $25.”

“Fifty dollars for soup!” another man says. “That’s a fucking joke.”

The video cuts away to a black screen with some harrowing statistics:

“For Bay Area families living on $24,300 or less, this is what every day feels like, in every store,” the video reads. “Because when you earn five times less than average, basic needs are five times harder to afford.”

The video ends with a link to the Tipping Point Community website. The group funds nonprofits in the Bay Area that work on issues including education and housing. It has raised more than $100 million since 2005 to support 600,000 people in need.

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