It was a pleasure to join my colleagues in Duquesne at the Pittsburgh Food Bank. It was an opportunity to see first hand the lead organization in coordinating the food purchases and deliver/pick-up of food for many of the food pantries in the surrounding 11 counties. This is a massive operation requiring 100s of volunteers every week, from church groups, rotary clubs, community service groups and hundreds of others.
The tour of the facility provided by Dora Wamsley was informative and enlightening. She described the food purchase process and the changing technology that allows the freshest, healthiest food options to get out the door to the food banks as quickly as possible.
After the tour we had a roundtable discussion with some of the other organizations that work hand-in-hand with the Pittsburgh Food Bank. They brought it home in describing that the hungry do not necessarily match the stereotypical poverty stricken picture often depicted on television. The hungry may look like the 80 year old woman, recently widowed that has spent her life savings to provide care for her ailing husband or the middle-class family that finds themselves laid-off indefinitely with bills that are now beyond their ability to pay. Hunger does not reserve itself to the drug-addicted and the lazy. It touches the single mom working two jobs while attending school to provide a better life for her children and young family working hard to make ends meet with a new baby to feed. These are all people that are helped by the food provided by the generosity of our communities, local food banks, business donations, the Pittsburgh Food Bank and the tax payers.
Through this series of policy tours and hearings the goal is to find real solutions to the continuing epidemic of poverty in this Commonwealth and in this nation. I believe that the information we have heard so far has been helpful in bringing to light a more accurate picture of the scope of issue. I know that there have also been overarching problems identified and I am hopeful that we will find workable solutions that will help to provide empowerment out of poverty for those desiring it.
I greatly appreciate the leadership of Policy Chairman, Dave Reed and the work of the legislators and agencies putting these informational meetings together.
-Rep. Donna Oberlander, 63rd Legislative District