IMPROVE ACCESS TO HEALTHY, AFFORDABLE FOOD
State Food Purchase Program Funding
The PA Department of Agriculture’s State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) is the Commonwealth’s most significant source of support for the efforts of Pennsylvania food banks, community food pantries and other providers of essential nutritional assistance. SFPP has made it possible for these providers to acquire and distribute food in all 67 counties. LAMPa will work with food banks and other hunger advocates for strong funding for SFPP.
Promoting Fresh, Local Food Systems
LAMPa will work with synods and congregations to provide education, resource development and advocacy on how to get fresh foods to local communities. Campaigns may include development of advocacy on use of SNAP benefits, building local food policy councils, support for farm-to-school or farm-to-food bank programs and community gardening. This includes supporting continued adequate funding for the Pennsylvania Agriculture Surplus System – PASS.
Improving School Breakfast Participation and Expanding Summer Feeding
LAMPa will continue to equip congregations to press for improvements to school breakfast programs in their communities, as well as raise the visibility of the effectiveness of school breakfast at the state level. In addition, LAMPa will assist congregations and hunger leaders in establishing summer feeding programs for children in high-need underserved areas.
PROTECTING ALL OF CREATION, ESPECIALLY THE MOST VULNERABLE
Addressing Climate Change
LAMPa will work to promote emissions standards to mitigate climate change, including equipping congregations to make sound choices regarding their own practices, such as energy consumption. This includes working to promote funds to adequately monitor and police such emissions as well as promoting energy efficiency and development of clean sources of energy. In this work, LAMPa will encourage sustainable development across Pennsylvania, but particularly in areas whose economies currently depend upon fossil fuel extraction, and support efforts to create resiliency among the most vulnerable populations – frequently of low income and racial minorities — who face the brunt of the effects of climate change here and around the globe.
Protecting Clean Air, Water and Land
LAMPa will work to protect the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink by advocating for adequate funding for agencies charged with enforcing and promoting those protections. We will also work to prevent rollbacks in regulations that would threaten health and safety.
LAMPa will encourage economic development in Pennsylvania that is sustainable for all of creation, including workers and those who depend upon them.
Conservation of Public Lands
LAMPa will oppose degradation or diminishment of the health of public lands such as state parks and forests.
POVERTY – PROMOTE HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL STABILITY
Oppose Predatory Payday Lending
Payday loans are a predatory product that charge triple-digit interest rates and entice borrowers into a debt trap. LAMPa will continue to oppose any efforts to introduce predatory payday lending and the weakening of Pennsylvania’s strong consumer protection laws.
Increase the Minimum Wage
LAMPa supports an increase in the minimum wage in Pennsylvania that will take into account the impact on nonprofit organizations, including: phasing in to lessen the impact of increased costs on our social service safety net; that new revenues be earmarked to increase reimbursement to help lessen the impact of wage increases and a formula that ties future increases of the minimum wage to an annual wage index.
Safeguard Benefits and Access to Benefits
Safety net programs such as SNAP, WIC, energy assistance and others lift thousands of families out of poverty. While working to encourage program efficiency and maximum participation of those eligible, LAMPa will remain vigilant to attempts to cut such safeguards or create costly hurdles for our most vulnerable neighbors.
LAMPa will work to direct resources toward prevention, rather than emergency shelter and crisis health care, encouraging inter-agency cooperation to support individuals and families so that they do not become homeless, and to quickly locate people back into housing instead of temporary shelter. LAMPa will work with congregations addressing homelessness in their communities to eliminate barriers to safe, affordable housing. Access to affordable housing is a primary hurdle for victims of domestic violence seeking to flee an abuser, and homelessness is considered a significant factor in both a child’s academic performance and likelihood that he or she will experience sexual abuse.
Billions in federal dollars and representation in Congress hinge on an accurate count in Pennsylvania during the 2020 Census. LAMPa will equip Lutheran partners to promote the census and actively work against an undercount, especially in marginalized communities.
LAMPa will continue to work to strengthen laws to prevent and protect victims of human trafficking.
IMPROVE EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES FOR PENNSYLVANIA STUDENTS
Educating our children is a collective imperative that has positive social and economic benefits. Every public school must have the resources necessary to enable every child to meet state academic standards, be prepared for post-secondary success, and become productive, knowledgeable, and engaged adults. LAMPa will work to ensure that Pennsylvania adopts and maintains an adequate and equitable system of funding public education.
EXPAND AND SAFEGUARD ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE
LAMPa will continue to focus on ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have access to high-quality, affordable health care. In concert with partners in Pennsylvania and in our DC Advocacy Office, LAMPa will continue to press for more transparent affordable coverage (advocating for limiting short-term limited duration healthcare plans); continue to advocate for legislation eliminating “surprise” medical bills; advocate for affordable prescription drugs; and seek public funding to assist with the 2020 Census ensuring all will be counted, thus affecting federal and state assistance funds related to health care.
Mental Health Treatment
LAMPa will work for greater funding for effective mental health treatment, beginning with trauma-responsive education in schools and trauma-responsive court systems that begin to unwind the unjust, costly, ineffective and frequently racially biased practices that promote mass incarceration.
This work will also continue the momentum to address the opioid epidemic and seek to broaden the understanding of policymakers to attack underlying causes, such as poverty and hopelessness. LAMPa, along with partners, will continue to explore avenues to improve mental health treatment options especially for rural Pennsylvanians who are found to be in a higher risk category for firearm suicide.
LAMPa will work to secure funding and oversight for an accurate census to ensure that all communities are accurately represented, and especially to avoid undercounting already underserved minority communities, which would further limit their access to services and representation. To improve transparency and trust in policing, LAMPa will work toward legislation requiring demographic data collection in pedestrian and traffic stops and transparency in reporting of use of deadly force by police.
Prohibiting LGBT Discrimination
It is currently legal to discriminate against persons in employment, housing, and public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. LAMPa will support legislation that ends that discrimination.
Safeguarding the Right to Vote
Gerrymandering and outdated voting systems that are vulnerable to alteration not only threaten the right of each individual to have his or her vote counted equally, but contribute to an inability to effectively govern by reducing public confidence in the legitimacy of elections. In order that government may effectively serve the public good, LAMPa will support measures that safeguard suffrage.
Lifting the Ban on Religious Garb in Public Schools
Pennsylvania is the only state remaining that still has a ban on religious garb worn in public schools. LAMPa will work with interfaith partners to lift that ban.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
LAMPa will support reforms that reduce mass incarceration and lead to healthy and lasting re-entry into our communities.
LAMPa will help congregations create welcoming communities and oppose legislation that would target immigrants for unjust treatment or seek to deny refugee resettlement efforts. This includes legislation that would force local municipalities to use their own resources to assist Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, thereby threatening trust between local law enforcement and their communities. Such practices tend to decrease public safety. LAMPa will advocate for drivers’ licenses for all who qualify regardless of citizenship status, as a way of combatting poverty as well as promoting safety and security on our roadways and in our communities.