GOOD READS: The state of the safety net

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As we pass the one-month mark since automatic budget cuts known as sequestration took effect, some essential reading (and listening) about one of the areas hardest hit: the country's safety net.

1. A school on Montana's Fort Peck Indian Reservation struggles to hire new teachers, feed kids at summer school and — in a school system where five children committed suicide in a single year — find a new guidance counselor.(Lyndsey Layton // Washington Post)

2. As cuts continue, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that poverty rates are higher than they've been since the mid-1960s, when President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the "War on Poverty." (AP via NPR)

3. The food stamps program puts a small Rhode Island town on a monthly boom-and-bust cycle, dependent on when people receive their benefits. (Eli Saslow//Washington Post)

4. Living on $2 a day. Could you do it? (Gabriel Thompson//Mother Jones)

FOR YOUR EARS "This American Life" and "Planet Money" spent 6 months untangling the federal disability program. This hour-long podcast tackles how one county can see a fourth of its working age adults on disability and why participation in the program has been on a steady climb over the last 30 years. Check out the graphics that accompany it here. (Not everyone agrees with the story; here is one explanation of why.)

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