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A walk in another's shoes

It’s the last week of the month, and I walk to the bank as fast as I can with my paycheck after leaving work for the day—but they have just closed for the weekend and I am unable to cash it. Discouraged, I find my spouse and tell him that despite our efforts, we won’t be able to finish paying our bills for the month. We’ve spent the last several weeks struggling to put food on the table for ourselves and our two grandchildren, but it still hasn’t been enough. I worry about what will happen in the months ahead.

These were my thoughts one morning last month as I attended a poverty simulation hosted by the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Tri-County Community Action. I’d heard from people who’d participated in similar simulations in the past that it would be a powerful experience, but beyond that I walked in not knowing what to expect.

I received an identity for the simulation—I was a middle-aged woman living with my husband and our two grandchildren. Another participant played my “husband”, and together we reviewed our biography along with our financial situation. I spoke limited English and worked full-time for minimum wage, while my husband was unable to work due to mobility issues and received a limited disability income. This brought our household of four just above the poverty line. After looking everything over together, it seemed we’d just barely be able to make ends meet throughout the four 15-minute “weeks” of the simulation.

Staffed tables were set up around the room representing necessary destinations including my employer, businesses, government and community service agencies. We received very limited instructions other than to try to make our way through these weeks, pay all of our expenses, and complete essential tasks such as going to work.

Most of my time each “week” was spent at work, while my husband managed most of our household needs. Transportation was a major barrier presented to each participant, and with the mobility issues present in our simulated scenario, this would have likely presented an even greater challenge in real life. The last week, the bank closed before I could get there after work and so with our limited assets, we weren’t able to finish paying our bills.

What resonated with me most was how stressed I felt throughout the simulation. This was just for one hour, and my decisions weren’t affecting my real life or family—so I can only imagine the toll that stress takes on the lives of individuals in poverty.

Another theme of my experience, echoed by several fellow participants, was that we'd done everything “right”—yet still struggled to make ends meet, let alone have the capacity to “better our situation” as some might suggest those in poverty should do.

I appreciated that many of the participants were people who work in places like food pantries or social service agencies. We are already passionate about combating poverty and its effects such as hunger, but we still recognized that we all have room to grow in empathy and understanding of poverty.

The simulation was extremely well-done and it’s not possible to fully describe the experience here—but more importantly, a morning spent at a simulation is only a small glimpse into the daily reality faced by our neighbors living in poverty. But this simulation served as a call to action to continue to work against the causes and effects of poverty in our communities.

In light of this call to action, our mission to ensure every Pennsylvanian has access to enough nutritious food seems more important to me than ever. Thank you for keeping up to date with Feeding Pennsylvania, and I hope you will respond to the call to action as well.

-Grace Sinopoli, Community Engagement Associate.

Growing relationships with Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Veggie Growers

January 31 through February 2, Feeding Pennsylvania attended the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Hershey, PA. Attendees from Feeding PA, Feeding America, and several of our Feeding Pennsylvania Food Banks represented the organization.

We spoke with many attendees and offered information to connect them to their local food banks. We also discussed policies such as PASS, the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System, which provides funding to cover the costs associated with harvesting, processing, packaging, and transporting surplus products including fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, poultry, pork, beef, and grains in order to donate those items to the charitable
food system.

Growers we talked with were highly interested in ways of increasing the impact their fruits and vegetables can have on food insecurity in their communities, from outright donations of produce, to accepting SNAP benefits. Many spoke favorably of relationships they already have with local food banks or agencies! It was valuable to have these conversations, sharing our mission of increasing the amount of fresh, healthy food such as produce in our charitable food system.

For more information on connecting local producers to our food bank network, including PASS and tax incentives for produce donations, please contact Feeding PA by replying to this email or through feedingpa.org.

Governor Tom Wolf's commitment to school breakfast

In honor of National School Breakfast Week (March 6-10), Governor Tom Wolf issued a proclamation encouraging "all citizens to recognize the efforts made by schools, their food service directors, and cafeteria staff to ensure the health, safety, and success of our children.” You can read more about it or view the full proclamation by clicking here.

Additionally, Governor Wolf is seeking to invest in school breakfast by proposed $2 million in his state budget for schools to reach more students with breakfast (see more here).

Feeding Pennsylvania thanks Governor Wolf for his commitment to school breakfast. "The school breakfast program is a key part of efforts to ensure that every Pennsylvanian, including the over 500,000 children who are at risk of hunger in this commonwealth, has access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life,” said Executive Director Jane Clements-Smith. “We know that school breakfast benefits children and schools by fueling students’ learning, and has a positive impact in the classroom and beyond.”

Feeding Pennsylvania food banks in the news

A farm grows in Chester City, and so does supermarket partnership: Philadelphia Inquirer published this engaging article about a community farm in Chester and their partnership with Philabundance's Fare & Square supermarket.

Help Us Help Them. Click Here to Donate!

Our Members

Feeding Pennsylvania promotes and aids our members in securing food and other resources to reduce hunger and food insecurity in their communities and across Pennsylvania.

Feeding Pennsylvania Members






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