Resource deployment key in combating poverty, hunger
“There’s a lot of working-class families in Pennsylvania with children who are missing meals because they are making life decisions between the meal and clothing or medicine and things like that,” said Rep. Jake Wheatley (D-Allegheny), co-chair of the Legislative Hunger Caucus. “Your economics definitely correlates to your ability to provide food for yourself and your family.”
Rep. Wheatley noted that his family was food insecure when he was growing up.
“I didn’t realize I was considered food insecure, but the fact [was] that me and my three siblings we would eat and my parents would wait until we were well fed first before they sat down and eat.”
He stated poverty and hunger is a vicious cycle that will not end without broader help from society and government.
“It’s incumbent upon society to try to help families, especially working class families, to not have to worry about the bare necessities of food so that they can keep their mind and spirits focused on being productive members of society,” he said.
Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana), chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, has been taking his committee on a commonwealth-wide listening tour on the issue of poverty, finding out the root causes of poverty in Pennsylvania and what can be done to resolve the issue.
He agreed that poverty and hunger go hand-in-hand.
“People in poverty are more likely to experience hunger or—at a bare minimum—the lack of a nutritious diet,” he said. “It’s very difficult for people to find gainful employment or an educational program or find a job training program if they haven’t had a good meal for two, three, [or] four days at a time.”
Both members agreed that poverty—and thereby hunger—affects Pennsylvanians in rural, urban, and suburban settings.
“When I talk about poverty and hunger, it’s certainly not an urban, suburban, or rural problem: it’s all of our issue, it impacts all of our production,” said Rep. Wheatley. “The fact that we don’t address it or don’t find solutions for it only drags down all of our abilities to really grow our Commonwealth and our economy.”
When it comes to solving the issue, both members also agree that stop-gap measure—while necessary in emergent situations—will not end poverty and associated hunger.
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