By Terri Asseal
The 2014 Pennsylvania Poverty and Hunger Report as presented by Rev. Dr. G. Edwin Zieders reflected not just staggering statics that are difficult to examine, but also the great need for action and transformation.
Pennsylvania demographics show a food insecurity rate of 20.6 percent, allowing for over 500,000 children to be food insecure, resulting in health issues, absences from school, the need to repeat grade levels, depression, and psychosocial dysfunction.
God’s most vulnerable children continue to be placed into foster care due to neglect, parent drug and/or alcohol abuse, caretaker inability to cope, and inadequate housing.
Child abuse in our state is greatest in the age cohorts of ages 5-8 years, 12-14 years, and 15-17 years. Over 24,300 cases of abuse were reported to child welfare, and over 3,400 cases substantiated.
Dr. Zeiders reminded us that the time is now to break the cycle of despair. We must find the spiritual courage for advocacy. Each district must assess their community needs and develop and implement their own strategy. Street ministries are a way to fight, be we must all be mobilized. Forge partnerships and walk among those living on the margins for the future of the Commonwealth and the future of our children.