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, and other providers of essential nutritional assistance, including our congregational and community food pantries. 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, community gardening and eliminating food waste. This includes supporting continued adequate funding for the Pennsylvania Agriculture Surplus System – PASS.
LAMPa will assist congregations and hunger leaders in establishing summer feeding programs for children in high-need underserved areas, advocate for implementation of summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), and work to increase state supplemental support for the National School Lunch Program.
LAMPa will work within the Pa. Hunger Action Coalition to obtain state funding to support the Senior Food Box Program to assist lead agencies with costs incurred in recruiting and ultimately providing service to more seniors in PA, as well as state funding to support initiatives and partnerships that play a critical role in getting the food box to the senior’s doorstep.
LAMPa will work to promote greenhouse gas emissions reductions to mitigate climate change, including equipping congregations to make sound choices regarding their own practices, such as energy consumption. This includes working to secure funds to adequately monitor and regulate 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 or processing, and support efforts to create resiliency and opportunity among the most vulnerable populations – frequently of low-income and racially or ethnically marginalized communities — who face the brunt of the effects of climate change here and around the globe.
Protecting the Environment and Communities
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 as well as assistance for landowners attempting to prevent or mitigate pollution. We will continue to press for statutory protections and remediation for environmental justice communities. 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. This includes supporting the efficient, equitable and environmentally appropriate expansion of broadband, electric vehicle and other infrastructure improvements.
Conservation of Public Lands
LAMPa will oppose degradation or diminishment of the health of public lands such as state parks and forests.
LAMPa will work to direct resources toward prevention of homelessness, as well as the safe rehousing and appropriate services for those who are unsheltered. This includes expansion of the Pa. Housing Access and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund and extension of an adequately funded Whole Home Repairs program. We will encourage inter-agency cooperation to support individuals and families so that they do not lose their homes, and to quickly locate people back into housing instead of temporary shelter. LAMPa will work with ministries to raise the voices of those who are at risk or experiencing homelessness and 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.
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.
Safeguard Benefits and Access to Benefits
Safety net programs such as food, income and energy assistance 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.
Increase the Minimum Wage
LAMPa will support 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.
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. This includes high-speed internet access. LAMPa will work to ensure that Pennsylvania adopts and maintains an adequate and equitable system of funding public education – one that makes significant strides toward undoing the harms of systemic racism.
LAMPa will continue to work to ensure that all Pennsylvanians have access to high-quality, affordable health care. This work will have a particular focus on reducing racial disparities in both access to care and in health outcomes. In concert with partners, LAMPa will continue to support measures to reduce medical debt, advocate for affordable prescription drugs, legalization of safe syringe exchange programs and safeguard access to reproductive care in accordance with this church’s teaching on abortion.
Mental Health Treatment
LAMPa will work for greater funding and access to effective mental health treatment, including 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. We will work for policies that provide mental health responders in lieu of or in addition to police when appropriate.
This work will also continue the momentum for addressing the opioid epidemic and seek to broaden the understanding of policymakers to attack underlying causes of drug use, such as poverty and hopelessness. LAMPa, along with partners, will continue to explore avenues to improve mental health treatment options.
It is currently legal in Pennsylvania 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.
Reducing Hate Crime
Incidences of reported hate crimes are at their highest level in decades. LAMPa will work within the Pa. Coalition Against Hate to update Pennsylvania’s hate crime laws for uniformity, extend protections to threatened communities, and give law enforcement the tools it needs to prevent and address hate crimes across the commonwealth, including education for rehabilitation of perpetrators.
Safeguarding the Right to Vote
Gerrymandering and overwhelmed voting systems not only threaten the right of each individual to have his or her vote counted equally, but also 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 and oppose those that would suppress voting.
LAMPa will support reforms that reduce mass incarceration, particularly the over-representation of racially and economically marginalized communities, curb solitary confinement, and lead to healthy and lasting re-entry into communities and families for those who have been incarcerated.
LAMPa will support policies that provide mental health responders in lieu of or in addition to police when appropriate and work for legislation to require independent investigation of police use of deadly force that ends in fatality.
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.
LAMPa will work to advance universal background checks and Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO) legislation, also known as “red flag” laws, that allow family and police to petition judges to temporarily confiscate firearms from a person at risk of harming himself or others.