Category Archives: Poverty

Trump Administration’s Snap Change Is ‘Cruel And Mean-Spirited’

Wolf’s State Human Services Secretary Denounces Measure

By J.D. Prose
Beaver County Times

Sept 23, 2019 – Calling the Trump administration’s proposed changes to a federal food assistance program “cruel and mean-spirited,” a cabinet secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday that 200,000 Pennsylvanians could lose their benefits.

“The Wolf administration vehemently opposes this change,” said Pennsylvania Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller in a conference call with reporters about the possible changes to eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps.

Miller’s department estimates that 2,544 Beaver County residents and 1,564 Lawrence County residents could lose their benefits under the plan.

President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed prohibiting states from raising or eliminating income limits that allows them to give federally-funded food benefits to people who would not otherwise qualify.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the change would save $2.5 billion a year, but supporters of the current system say it would hurt struggling low-income families, children, seniors and the disabled.

Trump administration officials have also argued that changing the rule would help reduce cases of fraud, but Miller said that in Pennsylvania the fraud rate in SNAP is just 1 percent and “lower than every other human services program.”

Miller said that a Pennsylvania family of four is eligible for SNAP benefits if it earns a maximum of $40,000 annually. However, under the Trump administration’s proposed change, that same family would only be allowed to earn $32,000 or less to be eligible, leaving many families without access to food.

“SNAP helps low-income families reliably keep food on the table without choosing between basic needs,” Miller said. Continue reading Trump Administration’s Snap Change Is ‘Cruel And Mean-Spirited’

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Nation’s Supermarkets Fall Short of Promise to Combat ‘Food Deserts,’ Including Many in Beaver County

By Kyle Lawson

Beaver County Times

Aliquippa resident Taishawn Harris said she’s satisfied with the selection and prices at the new Aldi store on Shaffer Road. The challenge is getting there.

“It’s affordable, and they have enough produce,” said Harris, 40, as she waited for her ride on a December evening with a cart full of groceries. “But I definitely wouldn’t walk here, I’d have to get a cab.”

Aliquippa is among thousands of areas nationwide the federal government has classified as “food deserts,” based on the poverty level and access to a supermarket.

In conjunction with Michelle Obama’s healthy food initiatives, major retailers promised in 2011 to open or expand 1,500 markets in and around food deserts by 2016, but by their own count are far short.

The nation’s top 75 food retailers opened nearly 10,300 stores in new locations from 2011 to the first quarter of 2015, of which 2,434 were grocery stores. But only about 250 were in food deserts.

Beaver Falls, Vanport Township, Ambridge, Midland, Pulaski Township, and sections of Monaca and Freedom are located within food deserts in Beaver County, according to a formula administered by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Treasury, and Health and Human Services.

An urban town qualifies as a food desert if the poverty rate is at least 20 percent and at least 500 people live more than one mile from a supermarket. A rural town qualifies if the poverty rate is at least 20 percent and more than 500 people live more than 10 miles from a grocery store, according to the agriculture department website. Continue reading Nation’s Supermarkets Fall Short of Promise to Combat ‘Food Deserts,’ Including Many in Beaver County

Beaver County Aid Providers Experience Tough Decisions During Poverty Simulation

Poverty Simulation

A poverty simulation experience presented by Aliquippa Weed and Seed, in conjunction with the Franklin Center’s Disproportionate Minority Contact Project, was held Friday at the Church in the Round. The simulation experience is designed to help participants begin to understand what it might be like to live in a typical low-income family trying to survive month to month. Here, the Rev. Marvin C. Moreland calls to be let out of "jail" during the simulation.

By Daveen Rae Kurutz

Beaver County Times

Nov. 4, 2014 ALIQUIPPA — Food, medicine or utilities.

It’s one of several stressful choices low-income families have to make each month. Keeping a budget in balance when necessary costs — such as housing, transportation and food — require almost all income is just one stressor that leaves people frustrated and looking for help.

That’s the situation several dozen Beaver County-area human-service providers found themselves in last week during a poverty simulation conducted by Aliquippa Weed and Seed and the Franklin Center of Beaver County. The program put participants in the shoes of a family living in poverty.

Participants were assigned to family roles — parents, children and grandparents — and given a budget and a series of responsibilities as part of Missouri’s Community Action Poverty Simulation.

“The whole idea is for human-service providers to have an idea what their clients go through,” said Jonathan Pettis, executive director at the Franklin Center. “They can take the lessons they learned back to their agencies. It’s really powerful.”

The simulation included representatives from Children and Youth Services, county Behavioral Health Services, Uncommon Grounds and other human-service organizations; members of the clergy; and officials from Aliquippa, Midland, Baden and the Blackhawk School District.

Groups were given different scenarios that low-income families regularly experience. Some families had absentee fathers or included children being raised by their grandparents. Other families struggled with divorce, affording college and teen pregnancy.

“The needs are very great,” said Abigail Young, virtual visitation coordinator for Trails Ministries Inc. in Beaver Falls, a faith-based re-entry ministry that works with incarcerated individuals and their families. “There is so much we all can do.”

Young, two of her co-workers and another participant played the roles of the Zuppot family — grandparents “Zola” and “Zeke” and children “Zenobia” and “Zander” — who struggled for four weeks in poverty.

Week One

A cashier at the local grocery store, Zola is the breadwinner for the family. Her husband has limited mobility and has to stay at home unless someone can help him travel.

The family was not able to buy food this week. There weren’t enough transportation passes to get Zola to work, the market and the Paycheck Advance office. When she did make it to cash her check, the office closed before workers could cash the check.

“Even when this family has cash, they can’t get where they need to go,” said Lola Thomas, a family coach with Trails Ministries who portrayed Zeke.

Week Two

The family still can’t buy food. Zola never made it to work after she and Zeke visited an interfaith service where workers gave them all-day transportation passes that they used to get to the bank to cash Zola’s paycheck and Zeke’s disability check.

Continue reading Beaver County Aid Providers Experience Tough Decisions During Poverty Simulation

Oct 27: ‘Moral Monday’ Rally at the Courthouse Monday Evening!

From Tina Shannon:

Friends,

Monday, October 27th, is a big day for Beaver County.

It’s the day we’ll have our first Moral Monday rally at the Beaver County Court House.

At 6:00 PM we’ll all gather on the steps of the Court House in Beaver to announce our intentions. We intend to follow our moral compass & use our energy to address the issues facing Beaver County & Pennsylvania.

Public education is under attack. It’s harder than ever to make a living because unions are under attack too. There aren’t enough jobs. Our very water is being threatened because of cuts to the agencies that are supposed to protect it. Inequality is at an all time high, with our brothers & sisters in the African American community suffering the worst. We intend to gather people together & address these issues & other issues that hurt our beloved community.

Please please join us. It’s the beginning of coming together. It’s the beginning of reaching out. It’s the beginning of standing & listening to each other & finding the way forward.

With love & solidarity,

Tina Shannon, 12th CD Progressive Democrats of America
Read more on Moral Mondays:

http://www.thenation.com/article/180491/how-moral-mondays-fusion-coalition-taking-north-carolina-back#
Activists to Watch: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber | BillMoyers.com

Beaver County Still Battling Poverty Problem

Pickup day at a food pantry

By J.D. Prose
Beaver County Times

Sept 28, 2014 – Pastor Avril Vreen doesn’t need newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau to tell her that poverty is a problem in Beaver County.

All she had to do was watch two young brothers split a free lunch at her Holy Spirit Fellowship Church in New Brighton this past summer. One of the boys agonized over precisely dividing a slice of bread, “which suggested to me that this child has done it before,” she said.

“Right there, I said, ‘This is more necessary than we thought,’” Vreen said of her church’s summer lunch program that served about 2,500 meals to children this year.

According to data recently released by the Census’ American Community Survey, nearly 20,700 Beaver County residents, or 12.4 percent, live below the poverty line, including 6,700 children. That total number represents about a 33 percent increase from 2007, when the county’s poverty rate was 9.1 percent.

In Allegheny County, nearly 13 percent of its 1.19 million residents, or more than 151,000 people, live below the poverty line while almost 14 percent of Lawrence County residents, about 12,200 people, do.
RELATED: How is the poverty level in Beaver County different from the state average? (Info graphic)

The national poverty rate is 14.5 percent, representing about 45 million Americans, according to TalkPoverty.org.

The government’s poverty line is based on annual income. For 2012, the poverty line for a family of four was $23,050 regardless of where the family lives in the United States.

Maj. Richard Lyle, the commander of the Salvation Army in Beaver Falls, said he’s seen the effects of poverty firsthand in the Army’s food pantries and soup kitchens. Five years ago in Beaver Falls the Salvation Army was servicing about 2,000 families a month, but that crept up before making “a significant jump” to about 2,600 18 months ago.

Continue reading Beaver County Still Battling Poverty Problem

Five Ways Wall Street Continues to Screw Up the Economy for the Rest of Us and How to Fix It

By Robert Kuttner

Beaver County Blue via Huffington Post

July 2, 2014 – The shocking thing about the financial collapse of 2008 is not that Wall Street excesses pushed us into the worst economy crisis since the Depression. It’s that the same financial system has been propped back up and that elites are getting richer than ever, while the effects of that collapse are continuing to sandbag the rest of the economy. Oh, and most of this aftermath happened while a Democrat was in the White House.

Consider:

  • The biggest banks are bigger and more concentrated than ever.
  • Subprime (subprime!) is making a comeback [2] with interest rates of 8 to 13 percent.
  • Despite Michael Lewis’s devastating expose of how high speed trading is nothing but a technological scam that allows insiders to profit at the expense of small investors, regulators are not moving to abolish it [3].
  • The usual suspects are declaring the housing crisis over, even though default and foreclosure rates in the hardest hit cities and states are upwards of 25 percent.
  • The deficit is falling, now just 2.8 percent of GDP [4], thanks to massive cuts in social spending. Isn’t that reassuring?

Meanwhile, back in the real economy, good jobs are far too scarce, incomes are stagnant, while 95 percent of the gains go to the top one percent.

Continue reading Five Ways Wall Street Continues to Screw Up the Economy for the Rest of Us and How to Fix It

Income Gap Widens as American Factories Shut Down: the Case of Reading, PA

Beaver County Blue via AP

June 15, 2014 – READING PA – In August 2008, factory workers David and Barbara Ludwig treated themselves to new cars – David a Dodge pickup, Barbara a sporty Mazda 3. With David making $22 an hour and Barbara $19, they could easily afford the payments.

A month later, Baldwin Hardware, a unit of Stanley Black & Decker Corp., announced layoffs at the Reading plant where they both worked. David was unemployed for 20 months before finding a janitor job that paid $10 an hour, less than half his previous wage. Barbara hung on, but she, too, lost her shipping-dock job of 26 years as Black & Decker shifted production to Mexico. Now she cleans houses for $10 an hour while looking for something permanent.

They still have the cars. The other trappings of their middle-class lifestyle? In the rear-view mirror.

The downfall of manufacturing in the United States has done more than displace workers and leave communities searching for ways to rebuild devastated economies. In Reading and other American factory towns, manufacturing’s decline is a key factor in the widening income gap between the rich and everyone else, as people like the Ludwigs have been forced into far lower-paying work.

It’s not that there’s a lack of jobs, but gains often come at either the highest end of the wage spectrum – or the lowest.

“A loss of manufacturing has contributed to the decline of the middle class,” said Howard Wial, an economist with the Brookings Institution and the University of Illinois at Chicago. “People who are displaced from high-paying manufacturing jobs spend a long time unemployed, and when they take other jobs, those jobs generally pay substantially less.”

Continue reading Income Gap Widens as American Factories Shut Down: the Case of Reading, PA