Archive for September 9, 2014

September, Hunger Action Month in Pennsylvania

Resource deployment key in combating poverty, hunger 

Author: Jason Gottesman/Monday, September 8, 2014/Categories: News and Views
While many things in policymaking are difficult to ascertain, one thing is for certain: poverty leads to a greater chance of hunger or food insecurity.Food Bank- Dave and Wheatley

“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.

To read the rest of the article… Click Here

Reinventing Human Services: Chairman Reed w/Lowman Henry Lincoln Radio Journal

This week, Chairman Reed joined Lowman Henry discussing ways the Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty initiative and the newly named ten Team Leaders are preparing for the “Reinvention of Human Services”. Many of the state’s local radio stations will air the interview this weekend, but if you’d like to listen to it now, you can stream it live by… Clicking Here

Commonwealth Foundation Podcast with Opportunity House

Podcast: Profiles in Perseverance, Overcoming Poverty


“Bobbi was struggling. A single mom of two kids, she had a job but no place to live. Thanks to Opportunity House in Reading, Pennsylvania, Bobbi found a home and eventually advanced her career by becoming an operations manager for the non-profit organization.

Tracy was homeless when she first came to Opportunity House’s shelter. Today, Tracy works three jobs to support her children, and she’s a school crossing guard. Her kids are finishing high school and are on track to attend college.

What do these success stories have in common? Both show that moving out of poverty takes a lot of support.

We spoke to Opportunity House’s president, Modesto Fiume, to find out how they are overcoming poverty in Reading, one of the nation’s poorest cities. Modesto explains, “It takes a lot of commitment. It takes a lot of hard work. It’s not something that happens overnight—there’s no quick fix here.”

Lifting families out of poverty isn’t only on Modesto’s mind. Key players at all levels of government are trying to get a handle on poverty.

In Washington, D.C., Congressman Paul Ryan released a book and policy paper focused on reforming welfare. His Opportunity Grant combines eleven different programs into one funding stream for states. Most critically, benefits are tied to work requirements, because Ryan and others recognize that work is about more than just a paycheck. Work provides purpose and builds self-worth.

In Harrisburg, the House Majority Policy Committee, led by Rep. Dave Reed, is spearheading the Gateways out of Poverty initiative. The committee spoke with the poor and community organizations to indentify common barriers and areas where public policy can make a positive impact.  

Among those focus areas is Benefits That Work, where lawmakers are working to address the disjointed system of benefits that punishes families for working more hours or receiving a promotion.”


To read the rest of the article and listen to the podcast… Click Here.

WITF Smart Talk: What’s the Answer to Poverty in PA?

Chairman Reed with Host Scott LaMar, June 18th 2014

“Today, more than 12 percent of Pennsylvania’s population lives in poverty – equal to about 1.5 million residents. It isn’t just confined to the inner cities or very rural areas either, but reaches all communities throughout the state, affecting everyone from college graduates struggling with loans to single-parent households.

According to federal guidelines, a single person with an income of less than $11,670 is living in poverty.  For a family of four, the poverty rate is $23,850.

On Thursday’s Smart Talk we will examine the state’s newest policy initiative created to combat poverty, Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty. Designed for the purpose of analyzing the barriers that keep individuals and families from overcoming poverty, it also surveys the best and worst practices for Pennsylvanians in their war against poverty.”


To listen to the entire interview…Click Here

Kevin Jenkins on the ‘What Works” Approach to Poverty, TribReview

A ‘What Works’ approach to poverty

By Kevin Jenkins
Friday, June 6, 2014

State Rep. Dave Reed is on the right path, headed in the right direction, to reduce poverty in Pennsylvania.

For far too long we have had a polarized debate over poverty. Many on the right view poverty as a personal moral failure. If the poor pull themselves up by their bootstraps, they would not be poor. On the left, many advocate for more money, believing that if we keep doing and funding the same things we have over the past 40 years, somehow we will finally get it right.

Both sides are wrong, and the Indiana County Republican legislator is taking steps to bring members of both camps together to seek solutions to poverty rather than bitter partisanship.

This year, Reed and his party’s Policy Committee embarked on a wide-ranging examination of poverty called “Empowering Opportunities: Gateways Out of Poverty.” By taking time to listen, ask questions, take testimony and learn from hundreds of experts, providers, consumers of services and everyday taxpayers, the committee identified poverty’s 13 barriers without getting into polarized political talking points.

This is exactly why The Pittsburgh Foundation, along with the United Way of Allegheny County and the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership, started the Campaign for What Works — a statewide initiative committed to changing the tone of the debate around human services by supporting programs that work for the consumer, taxpayer and state.

To read the rest of the editorial… Click Here.

Seeking the Gateways Out of Poverty, PA Catholic Conference on Initiative

There is an oft-repeated parable that goes something like this:

One day a group of villagers was working in the fields by a river.  Suddenly someone noticed a baby floating downstream. A woman rushed out and rescued the baby, brought it to shore and cared for it. During the next several days, more babies were found floating downstream, and dave and crossthe villagers rescued them as well. But before long there was a steady stream of babies floating towards them.

Soon the whole village was involved in the many tasks of rescue work: pulling these poor children out of the stream, ensuring they were properly fed, clothed, and housed, and integrating them into the life of the village.

Before long, however, the village became exhausted with all this rescue work. Some villagers suggested they go upstream to discover how all these babies were getting into the river in the first place. Had a mysterious illness stricken these poor children? Had the shoreline been made unsafe by an earthquake? Was some hateful person throwing them in deliberately? Was an even more exhausted village upstream abandoning them out of hopelessness?

“Don’t you see,” cried some, “if we find out how they’re getting in the river, we can stop the problem and no babies will drown? By going upstream we can eliminate the cause of the problem!” (Credit: Bread for the World)

One group of state legislators is similarly concerned about the “rescue work” being done in Pennsylvania to address the effects of poverty. The House Majority Policy Committee commissioned a study to identify barriers that low-income Pennsylvanians face when attempting to reach self-sufficiency. In April 2014, the committee released the preliminary findings of their Beyond Poverty report.

To read the rest of the article…Click Here