The Republican and Democratic, Jewish and Christian organizers of Sunday’s anti-poverty event at Catholic University don’t understand why there’s so little focus, in the presidential campaigns or in everyday life, on the truly shameful number of Americans who are not just struggling but hungry and hurting.

(Washington Post/Michael Fletcher)

Right here in the United States of America, about 16 percent of our people live at or below the poverty line — defined as a family of four making it on less than $23,000. 

“It’s not a major issue in the debate, and why isn’t it?” asked Thomas Melady, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and an active Mitt Romney supporter. 

“Occasionally one or the other” presidential candidate “will mention it,” but mostly, “it’s invisible,” said Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, who’s involved in mobilizing Catholic voters for Barack Obama. “It’s not on anybody’s front burner.”

On Sunday afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m., Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies hosts “Forget Not the Poor: An Interfaith Conference on Poverty,” co-sponsored by AJC Global Jewish Advocacy.

The speakers will include Georgetown law professor Peter Edelman, Kathy Saile from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Rabbi Sid Schwartz and Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore Denis Madden.

Brian Banks, of the National Capitol Area Food Bank, and Audrey Lyon of Yachad, a Jewish anti-poverty program, will talk about various practical ways to get involved in anti-poverty efforts in the D.C. area.

Melinda Henneberger is a Post political writer and anchors the paper’s ‘She the People’ blog. Follow her on Twitter at @MelindaDC.