Poverty Simulation, Lakes and Pines Community Action Council


Lakes and Pines Community Action Council, in partnership with Heartland Community Action, the Minnesota Community Action Partnership and many community volunteers, has been busy over the last year hosting Poverty Simulations across the state. Each Agency has purchased a kit from the Missouri Community Action Partnership and has trained certified facilitators to host the trainings.

A Poverty Simulation is a unique training opportunity that allows 40 – 80 participants a “peek” at what it may be like to live in poverty for a month. During the simulation, participants role-play the lives of low-income families, including single parents, people with disabilities and Senior Citizens on Social Security. The goal of each family is to provide for food, shelter and other basic necessities with the limited resources available in their community.

Volunteers have helped to conduct the trainings throughout the state for Community Action staff members at Heartland, Lakes and Pines and TriCAP, a local church and several nursing students. Last fall a Simulation was held in conjunction with New Pathways’ “Box City” fundraising event for the homeless shelter in Cambridge. Lakes and Pines, Heartland and MinnCAP are always seeking organizations that may be interested in helping increase awareness of poverty and its effects by hosting a Simulation.

Volunteers are a vital part of the Simulation experience. Many community members come together to assist in role-playing community resources for the families as they strive to make it through their “month” of living in poverty. Family Pathways has been a strong partner in working with Lakes and Pines by providing volunteers and the Seven County Senior Federation has recently joined in partnership as well. Lakes and Pines’ and Heartland’s Board Members, Head Start Policy Council Members and staff, as well as many other volunteers from the community have helped to make the Poverty Simulations a huge success in our community. We couldn’t provide this exceptional teaching opportunity without their support.


The value of the Simulation can be heard in the comment by one of Lakes and Pines’ staff members after attending the training: “I am so grateful to have had the experience as it has opened my eyes to the real struggles that our clients face every day, and will make me more understanding when I pick up my phone to a disgruntled client.”

For more information on how you can volunteer or host a simulation for your organization or community members, contact the Lakes and Pines Administration office at 320-679-1800 or lap@lakesandpines.org.