PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Food insecurity is great in Pennsylvania, and with inflation, it continues to rise.
While prices rise, jobs continue to pay the same, forcing families to dig deep into their budgets.
"We know that all of us are seeing rising prices at the grocery stores and the return to paying for school lunches is hurting the families that are just above the cutoff for federal free lunch programs," state Sen. Lindsey Williams said.
One in five people in Pittsburgh is food insecure, and the problem just keeps getting worse. Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to make it easier.
Just this week, Governor Tom Wolf expanded eligibility for SNAP benefits. Starting Oct. 1, the income threshold for food stamps will increase to 200 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines.
That means an additional 420,000 people across the state will be eligible for SNAP benefits. State officials say they'll receive on average $63 a month for food.
Some state lawmakers also want to make free breakfast a permanent program in schools.
"The school cafeteria becomes a classroom where nutrition, gardening and sustainability can be taught," Williams said.
Williams and state Sen. Emily Kinkead put forward a bill that would dedicate $275 million of the state's annual budget to keep the universal free breakfast program and add free lunches to the plan.
"Ensuring every student has access to breakfast and lunch with no shame or stigma is one of the most common sense ways we can help our kids be ready to learn every single day," Williams said.
It's something they say wouldn't take up much of the budget and would have immediate overall health benefits for students, while also taking the financial burden off parents.
for more features.