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Dickinson College students completed the Cumberland County Food Assessment and online story map in 2018. The assessment identified workforce training as critically connected to food and poverty challenges in the county. If structural poverty and inequality concerns are not addressed in the county, food access will remain a persistent issue. While food pantries provide vital temporary solutions for residents without access to sufficient food, emerging initiatives in Cumberland County seek to address some of the root poverty challenges that ultimately limit people’s access to food and health. New Hope Ministries (New Hope), a social service agency based in the county, takes a multi-faceted approach to expand their food pantries (both permanent and mobile) to workforce training for in demand careers in the region.

On behalf of New Hope, Dickinson College’s Environment and Society class conducted research in 2019. New Hope asked students to explore the opportunities and barriers to accessing healthy food, transportation, and workforce training in Enola, which is an area West of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. New Hope currently operates a well-attended monthly mobile food pantry in Enola. Pending the availability of funding, New Hope is considering a permanent food pantry and workforce training site in Enola. New Hope asked the students to interview their mobile food pantry guests. The goal was to assess the need for the food pantry and workforce training center in Enola, and to identify convenient locations for the potential center. This report attempts to contextualize linkages across food, workforce training, and transportation, with a specific emphasis on the needs of Enola and the broader region.  Click here to download: EXPLORING INTERSECTIONS: FOOD ACCESS, WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, AND TRANSPORTATION

Positioning low income workers to succeed in a changing economy.

This report aims to shift the discussion about the changing nature of work from analysis and into action by showcasing strategies, policies and programs that already are improving the present and future for lower-wage workers and their families. This report was compiled, edited and designed by The Hatcher Group.

Please click here to read: Positioning low income workers to succeed in a changing economy.

Closing the Front Door: Creating a Successful Diversion Program for Homeless Families

Diversion is a strategy that prevents homelessness for people seeking shelter by helping them identify immediate alternate housing arrangements and, if necessary, connecting them with services and financial assistance to help them return to permanent housing. Diversion programs can reduce the number of families becoming homeless, the demand for shelter beds, and the size of program wait lists. Diversion programs can also help communities achieve better outcomes and be more competitive when applying for federal funding. The attached describes how communities can begin diverting families from entering their homeless assistance systems.

Please click here to read the National Alliance to End Homelessness Report, Closing the Front Door: Creating a Successful Diversion Program for Homeless Families

Helping the hard-to-employ transition to employment

Some cash welfare clients and disadvantaged parents with child support obligations have significant barriers to finding and keeping a job.  Barriers include low education, physical or mental health issues, criminal history, caregiving responsibilities for disabled child, and recent experience of domestic violence. Approaches include caseworkers providing personal attention and robust supports; incentives for employment and/or child support compliance; and interventions informed by behavioral science.

Please click here to read the report by the Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

United Way 2019 ALICE Report for Pennsylvania

United Way of Pennsylvania’s 2019 ALICE Report for Pennsylvania is a data project that redefines what financial struggle means across the state. It encompasses all 67 counties of the commonwealth, parsing out the data on a local level.  ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE represents the growing number of households in our communities that do not earn enough to afford basic necessities. This research initiative partners United Ways, foundations, academic institutions, corporations and other state organizations to present data that can stimulate meaningful discussion, attract new partners and ultimately inform strategies for positive change. The statewide results show that 24% of Pennsylvanians earn above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but still struggle to buy even the most basic household necessities. Combined with the 13% of our population living below the FPL, a full 37% of Pennsylvanians live a daily battle to make ends meet. That’s over 1.8 million households.  Source:  Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers www.pachc.org. 

Please click here to be directed to the United For Alice Home Page for additional resources. 

A Seat at the Table

The “A Seat at the Table” project’s intent was just that, collaborative: engaging partners by learning together from evidenced-based data, around a common purpose, to achieve a shared goal—a hunger-free York County. What we know is that York County is home to more than 100 charitable food distribution programs, doing good work and helping neighbors. However, even with these programs there are thousands of people struggling with hunger and food insecurity. The USDA defines food insecurity as the lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. With support from the Memorial Health Fund, The Food Trust was commissioned, as an independent reviewer, to evaluate the charitable food distribution system using an innovative mapping approach to identify areas of need, draw attention to challenges, highlight successes, and make a clear call for systemic change to move the needle on food insecurity in York County. Specifically, this report seeks to answer these questions:

• What areas in York County are most affected by food insecurity?
• What gaps are there in its food distribution system?
• How can we better coordinate and expand services to ensure that people living with food insecurity in York County get the help they need?
• What can be done to assure access to healthy and nutritious food for those struggling with food insecurity?
Click here to read A Seat at the Table. 

Living Wage Calculator

Families and individuals working in low-wage jobs make insufficient income to meet minimum standards given the local cost of living. The website below developed a living wage calculator to estimate the cost of living in your community or region based on typical expenses. The tool helps individuals, communities, and employers determine a local wage rate that allows residents to meet minimum standards of living.

http://livingwage.mit.edu/

Two-Generation Approach

Two-generation approaches provide opportunities for and meet the needs of children and their parents together. They build education, economic assets, social capital, and health and well being to create a legacy of economic security that passes from one generation to the next. New Hope Ministries believe the two-generation approach helps both generations make progress together.

Governor Tom Wolf’s Food Security Partnership

A BLUEPRINT FOR A HUNGER-FREE PA

The blueprint addresses the Commonwealth’s commitment to alleviating hunger.  The mission is to provide Pennsylvanians with access to healthy, nutritious food, which will improve their well-being, health, and independence.

Nine Marks of a Healthy Parachurch Ministry

By: J. Mack Stiles

Parachurch ministries work hand-in-hand with the local church community. What exactly is a parachurch and what makes a healthy parachurch?  This article illustrates nine marks of a healthy parachurch ministry in today’s world.

Best Practices: Innovations and Solutions Developed by Hunger Relief Agencies in Washington State.

By: Washington Food Coalition

Developed as part of the Emergency Food Assistance Program’s Capacity Building Project, this catalog features best practices which can be replicated by emergency food providers. Catalog profiles are identified with visual indicators representing food banks, meal programs, distribution centers, and ideas which everyone can use.

The High Cost of Youth Unemployment

By: By Sarah Ayres Steinberg

Poverty Interrupted

Applying Behavioral Science to the Context of Chronic Scarcity

By: ideas42

Breaking the Cycle of Inter-Generational Poverty For Good

In an effort to help children and their families break out of this cycle of poverty, ideas42 has embarked on a new initiative called Poverty Interrupted (PI). The application of behavioral science to this endemic problem could lead not only to improved lives, but also to more efficient deployment of limited public resources.

Workforce Development as an Antipoverty Strategy:  What Do We Know? What Should We Do?

By: Harry J. Holzer

This paper notes the basic paradox of workforce development policy: that, in an era in which skills are more important than ever as determinants of labor market earnings, we spend fewer public (federal) dollars on workforce development over time. Includes trends in funding and how the major federal programs at the Department of Labor and other agencies have evolved over time.

Reducing Child Poverty by Promoting Child Well Being

By: Elizabeth K. Anthony

The American Dream promises that individual talent will be rewarded, regardless of where one comes from or who one’s parents are. But, the reality of what transpires along America’s K-12-to-career pipeline reveals a sorting of America’s most talented youth by affluence—not merit. Among the affluent, a kindergartner with test scores in the bottom half has a 7 in 10 chance of reaching high SES among his or her peers as a young adult, while a disadvantaged kindergartner with top-half test scores only has a 3 in 10 chance.  Click here for complete report.