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Bucks-Mont Collaborative: Getting By

News Source: The Reporter

By Manna on Main Street and Philabundance

So many in our community are just getting by. In Montgomery County…
◾80,000+ individuals, or one in 10, are food insecure;

◾23,000+ children experience food insecurity, with a troubling child food insecurity rate of 13.2 percent;

◾7.1 percent of the population lives in poverty and many more struggle in economic instability.

Barb understands this day-to-day struggle.

Barb is a Lansdale resident whose family moved back to Montgomery County when she was 14 and became pregnant with her son. As her family didn’t have money for childcare, she brought her newborn to school but was asked to leave due to school policy; she never returned or earned her GED.

Since she was 18, she’s worked full-time to take care of her son and keep them off welfare. She’s the epitome of a caretaker, always helping others through various health care positions. She worked as a head cook at a personal care facility, then served as her blind and diabetic aunt’s caretaker, and most recently was employed as a medical diet aide.

During this time, she found Manna on Main Street. “I was petrified the first time I walked in there. I didn’t want anyone to see me. I didn’t know what to expect. You don’t want to have to ask for help.”

She soon became comfortable, and has been visiting for food or simply friendship and support, off and on for 20 years. When she doesn’t need help, she admits, “I’m just glad to know Manna’s there.”

Barb also visits Philabundance food bank’s Fresh For All program in nearby Souderton for fresh veggies and fruits.

This past May, a fall caused Barb to be out of work as her job required her to stand on her feet for 10 hours a day; she was devastated as she loved her job. While she was out of work, she was on short ]-term disability, which paid her 60 percent of her regular income, but still required her to pay full price for her benefits; it strained her already limited budget.

“I’m not giving up — I don’t want to be on the government payroll.”

Manna was able to help Barb with some of her physical therapy costs, and additionally, Barb enrolled in Getting Ahead, a program that addresses solutions to breaking the cycle of poverty, and builds relationships and resources for those living in poverty and economic instability.

“What it gave me was hope. It lets us know we’re not alone. And that’s the biggest thing for me.”

She’s now back at work, and currently, she and a few students from her class are circulating a petition to help advocate for stronger laws governing food assistance. She said they want to do something with the knowledge learned in class.

And she asks, “what better way to make a difference than to do something?”

Barb’s story inspires us to take action and create change in our community. The economic instability and poverty many face impacts us all, reducing individual, household and community economic opportunities. Together, we can better understand and address the issues underlying and perpetuating suburban poverty.

◾Participate in a Bridges out of Poverty training.

In 2015, Manna joined a national movement called Bridges Out of Poverty, which weaves the knowledge of experts -those with firsthand knowledge about living in poverty — with that of community groups and individuals to understand the causes and driving forces existing within poverty as well as ways to solve it. In the North Penn Region, 2.7 minimum wage jobs are required to pay the fair market rate for a two-bedroom apartment. Many are struggling in our own backyard.

Monthly trainings are open to all. For training dates, please visit www.mannaonmain.org.
◾Enroll in Getting Ahead

Getting Ahead is a 16-week course for individuals living in economic instability, helping participants to “get ahead in a just gettin’ by world.” To learn more, please contact Nadja Mummery: nadja@mannaonmain.org. Upcoming Course: Jan 12-April 26.

◾Give Back

Volunteer, organize a food collection, or make a donation to Manna. You can make a direct impact in our community with your generous time and resources.

Manna on Main Street is committed to ending hunger in the North Penn region by providing food, fulfilling social service and education needs, and conducting community outreach. Through a market and kitchen, emergency financial aid, counseling and referrals, and education opportunities, we serve those in need with the hope “that everyone might be fed.”

Philabundance is the Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization, serving more than 90,000 people each week in nine counties in PA and Southern NJ through its own distribution programs and 350 agencies, including Manna on Main Street.

Of those Philabundance serves, 30 percent are children, 16 percent are seniors, and adults served include students, the working poor and single parents. A $1 donation provides two meals. Give now or learn more at Philabundance.org.

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