Pennsylvania Hunger and Poverty Policy Questions

Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Keystone State are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need.

Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond.  The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.

These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions. 

Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.

Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding.  We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.

1) There is no state Earned Income Tax Credit program.  Is there any movement in the legislature or among private organizations to enact one?
2) Only 12.4% of taxpayers receive the federal EITC.  This is below the national average of 15%.  Is any effort being made to increase recipiency among Pennsylvania residents of the EITC?
3) The lowest 20% of income earners pay 11.2% of their income in taxes. The highest 1% of income earners pay 3.9% of their income in taxes. What can be done to alleviate the tax burden on low-income individuals?
4) Pennsylvania does not have a Shared Work Program.  Why not?  Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
5) The percentage of students participating in both the School Breakfast Program and School Lunch Program (38.4) is below the national average of 45.56%.  Is there any effort underway to increase participation in either program?
6) The benefit amount for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is below the national average.  With so much infrastructure in place (participating farms and established markets), is there any movement to increase the benefit rate for this program? Are any state representatives pushing for increased federal funding for this program?
7) Pennsylvania has about 2,700,000 people who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; this is the 5th highest of any state in the nation. Out of this large number only 57% actually participate. What is being done to increase outreach for this program? What groups or individuals are involved?
8) The infant mortality rate is well above the national average at 7.6. The percentage of the population that is obese is also above average at 27.4%. What is being done to combat these epidemics?
9) Only 11% of 4 year olds are enrolled in State Pre-K Program.  This is less than half the national average of 23%.  Is anything being done to expand the program to include more 4 year olds?
10) Pennsylvania has the 9th highest participation rate in the Summer Nutrition Program per 100 children in the National School Lunch Program. Can you think of any particular aspects of this program in your state that have lead to its success?
11) What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?

Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected]

Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.