Monday, December 6, 2010

Natalia Rudiak: Taking on the SNAP Challenge

Today is my first day on the SNAP challenge with Just Harvest, and I have already had to make some tough food choices. For breakfast, I had a cup of tea and to make sure I could eat a decent dinner, I skipped lunch—a great way to start off a day of budget hearings! I’m not sure what I’m going to do for dinner yet, but I have some strict rules to follow:

  • I have an allowance of $6.67 a day for the first three days, then I have $6.17 for the last two days;

  • No one can buy me any food;

  • I can’t eat food that I already have in my house.

I’m going to post a couple of times this week just to check in and let everyone know how I am doing, but I think its going to be a hungry week. Can you imagine a child having to sit through a math or science class with hunger pains? What kind of a student can we reasonably expect that child to be? How will we break the cycle of poverty if we are unable to give our children the opportunities they need to focus on learning and not their hungry mom, dad, brothers or sisters?

Right now in City Council we’re putting together the 2011 City budget, in which we will dedicate substantial City funds to hunger groups in Pittsburgh. Last year we gave almost a half a million dollars to hunger organizations across Pittsburgh, including the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, the Urban League Hunger Services Network, Just Harvest, and more.

These community service organizations are essential allies in the fight against hunger in Pittsburgh, but with reduced SNAP funding their efforts are going to be stretched thinner and thinner. For example, at the Brookline Christian Food Pantry in Brookline, usage of the pantry has increased by more than 15% over last year, and seen similar increases in the years before that.

The proposed cuts to the SNAP program illustrate that actions motivated by political ideology on a national level trickle down to the local level. Ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. The underfunding of hunger programs in Washington DC puts strain on our own city and school budgets and reduces the efficacy of our own educational reform and economic development programs. Elected Officials at all levels of government are charged with protecting the health, welfare, and safety of you and your neighbors—this includes making sure that none of our neighbors go hungry.

So here’s to a week of awareness, of protest, and hopefully of action against hunger in Pittsburgh. Check back later this week!

Natalia Rudiak
City Councilwoman
Pittsburgh, District 4

1 comment:

Alex said...

After enlisting a Just Harvest representative, a Rep. Jim Ferlo's office representative, and a half dozen visits to three different DPW offices, 81 days later, I am approved for my food stamps with retroactive pay to September 17th!

Just Harvest (412) 431-8960
Jim Ferlo's office (412) 621-3006
Food Stamp Helpline: 1-800-692-7462

Going to the office helped a little bit along the way, but making calls to the right people helped more.

THANK YOU KEN at Just Harvest for helping me! You're an angel.