Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Walks Along for Policy Event in Duquesne

Anti-hunger advocates feed legislators policy advice, ideas

By Kate Giammarise / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau

 

Living wage jobs.

Longer hours at county assistance offices.

More coordination between state agencies.

Food bank and anti-hunger advocates peppered state legislators with ideas about how to fight poverty at a meeting at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank on Wednesday.

The meeting was part of a statewide initiative by Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana, to learn more about poverty. About 13.4 percent of the population in Allegheny County lives in poverty, according to 2011 statistics.

Mr. Reed, head of the GOP-controlled House Majority Policy Committee, heard several comments about difficulties faced by low-wage workers.

“In order to even accept that minimum wage job at 20 hours a week, you need child care,” said Rochelle Jackson, public policy advocate from Just Harvest.

“Living wage is the ultimate goal because that will solve a lot of problems,” she added.

Other comments took aim directly at recent state policy changes.

The asset test implemented for food stamp recipients by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration a year ago has put additional administrative burdens on county caseworkers and hurt families in need, said Caryn Long, executive director of Feeding Pennsylvania.

“We have some real concerns about that,” she said.

Other bureaucratic red tape around many assistance programs is the legacy of a safety net that was built piecemeal over time, rather than in a comprehensive way, said Ken Regal, executive director of Just Harvest.

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