At Thanksgiving, what to know about your neighbors in need, and how to help | Wednesday Morning Coffee

(Image via Flickr Commons)

Good Wednesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Sometime this evening, or, more likely, early tomorrow morning, you’re going to pile into the car, hop on a train or jump on a flight. All the better to traverse hill and dale to be reunited with loved ones and to gorge on a calorie-filled meal more properly measured in light years.

But for too many Americans, the holidays are still a time of need. And to drive home that reality, here are a few numbers for you to think about.

1,534,710: The number of people struggling with food insecurity in Pennsylvania, according to Feeding America.

437,340: The number within that cohort who are Pennsylvania children.

$3.04: The average cost of a meal in Pennsylvania

$797,438,000: How much money is needed to annually feed hungry Pennsylvanians, according to Feeding America.

(Screen Capture, Feeding America)

While some say government assistance isn’t needed to feed the hungry, the simple truth is that charitable giving isn’t enough, according to Feeding America.

“Charitable programs are unable to fully support those struggling with hunger. The combination of charity and government assistance programs are necessary to help bridge the meal gap,” the write. And that benefit comes through the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program, which the Trump administration has been trying to cut.

Thus, a few more numbers to think about:

36.2 percent: The percentage of Pennsylvania households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance benefits that have children living in them.

(Screen Capture, Feeding America)

$2,592,183,684: The amount in SNAP benefits distributed in Pennsylvania.

$4,406,712,263: The economic benefit derived in Pennsylvania from those SNAP benefits.

(Image via Flickr Commons)

If you haven’t already donated to a local food bank this holiday season, here is the contact information for nine Pennsylvania food banks. It’s the most direct way to help. You can also donate to the food pantry at your local house of worship or community center as well. It doesn’t cost much at all, but it makes such a huge difference.

1.Westmoreland County Food Bank
100 Devonshire Drive
Delmont, Pa.,15626
724.468.8660

2. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
1 North Linden Street
Duquesne, Pa.,15110
412.460.3663

3. Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania
1507 Grimm Drive
Erie, Pa., 16501
814.459.3663

4. Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
3908 Corey Road
Harrisburg, Pa. 17109
717.564.1700

5. Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and NE Pennsylvania
6969 Silver Crest Road
Nazareth, Pa., 18064
610.434.0875

6. Philabundance
3616 S. Galloway Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
215.339.0900

7. H & J Weinberg NE PA Regional Food Bank
185 Research Drive
Pittston, Pa., 18640
570.908.2222

8. Helping Harvest
117 Morgan Drive
Reading, Pa., 19608
610.926.5802

9. Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County
109 S. Sharpsville Avenue
Suite A
Sharon, Pa., 16146
724.981.0353

Our Stuff.
Elizabeth Hardison leads our coverage this morning with a deep dive on some new sentencing data. Sentences are down – but reformers say that might not be such a great thing at second glance.

Associate Editor Cassie Miller has what you need to know about Gov. Tom Wolf signing a long-awaited package of reforms to Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations for child sex abuse into law. The ceremony took place in Reading, on the home turf of Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, an abuse survivor who led the fight in the state House.

Those legislative retirements are starting to pile up. Reps. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, and Neal Goodman, D-Schuylkill, are the latest lawmakers to announce they’ll hang up their spurs in 2020.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and U.S. Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District, and Susan Wild, D-7th District, have joined other Congressional Dems to defy U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos on her student loan forgiveness changes. Our Washington reporter, Allison Winter, has the story.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune: A city man who was jailed because he couldn’t pay $1,900 in court fees and fines is free — pending a hearing.

On our Commentary Page, opinion regular Mark O’Keefe wonders whether political self-preservation played a role in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s abrupt pivot on a bill bailing out pensions for coal miners.

And from a University of Michigan professor, some pro tips on avoiding the dreaded argument over politics around your holiday table.

(Old Main at Penn State University. Image via Flickr Commons)

Elsewhere.
Penn State University
 and other Pa. public universities are among the nation’s most expensive — and are ‘surprisingly empty,’ the Inquirer reports.
Journalists at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are into their second week of a byline strikePittsburgh City Paper reports.
Friends and colleagues of the late ABC-27 sportscaster Gregg Mace gathered at the Giant Center in Tuesday to celebrate his life, PennLive reports.
State officials have agreed to $378 million in repair work, including a new interchange, for Interstate 78 through the Lehigh Valley, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:

SEPTA will be allowed to continue to operate a gas generating plant in Nicetown, PhiladelphiaWHYY-FM
reports.
A divided task force has urged an end to public grand jury reports in Pennsylvania, WITF-FM reports. 
Republican borough council member from Oakmont is challenging House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-AlleghenyPoliticsPA reports. 
Re-election contests for U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, and Scott Perry, R-10th District, are ‘toss ups’ for 2020, according to Politico’s prognosticators.

WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf 
has no public schedule today.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s a straight-up banger. It’s a remix of ‘Teeth’ by Working Men’s Club.

Wednesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Boston trounced Montreal 8-1 on Tuesday nightwith the B’s David Pastrnak picking up a hat trick on the way to the win.

And now you’re up to date

An award-winning political journalist with more than 25 years' experience in the news business, John L. Micek is The Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. Before joining The Capital-Star, Micek spent six years as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., where he helped shape and lead a multiple-award-winning Opinion section for one of Pennsylvania's most-visited news websites. Prior to that, he spent 13 years covering Pennsylvania government and politics for The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa. His career has also included stints covering Congress, Chicago City Hall and more municipal meetings than he could ever count, Micek contributes regular analysis and commentary to a host of broadcast outlets, including CTV-News in Canada and talkRadio in London, U.K., as well as "Face the State" on CBS-21 in Harrisburg, Pa.; "Pennsylvania Newsmakers" on WGAL-8 in Lancaster, Pa., and the Pennsylvania Cable Network. His weekly column on American politics is syndicated nationwide to more than 800 newspapers by Cagle Syndicate.