Friends, Neighbors and Fellow Upper Merion Area Residents:
- Did you know there are approximately 50 homeless children in the Upper Merion Area School District? Did you know more than 100 families in our community are food insufficient? Did you know about 38% of the kids in the Upper Merion Area School District received a free or reduced-price lunch?
And we live in an affluent community which has an unemployment rate around 3% with an abundance of available jobs, a high level of government services and low taxes.
Homelessness, food insecurity and financial instability take different forms and can arise in a multitude of ways. Many people think of a homeless person as someone who lives on the street however homelessness also includes people who live in hotels or with friends or in a vehicle. Last year a stat made headlines across the United States when it was revealed approximately 60% of Americans do not have enough savings to cover an unexpected $500 debt. This is all it takes to potentially trigger a crisis which could result in someone losing their home or eating insufficiently.
Fortunately several organizations are stepping up to create a local safety net, one of which is the recently formed Upper Merion Area Community Cupboard (Community Cupboard). Supporters of the Community Cupboard includes elected and appointed township and school district officials as well as leaders from our business, educational, religious and charitable communities. It is expected to open in mid June and it will be located at Valley Forge Presbyterian. In the past few weeks there have been opportunities to donate food to the Community Cupboard and in the near future there will be more chances including at Upper Merion’s annual Fourth of July celebration. For much more information on the Community Cupboard including how to donate or volunteer your time and hours of operation you can click this link to access the Community Cupboad website.
People who struggle to pay for housing and food are probably going to struggle to afford some of the other amenities of our community including the Upper Merion Community Center and the Upper Merion Township Pool. The Upper Merion Township Foundation (Township Foundation) is working to change this. Recently the Township Foundation established a pilot program to provide 10 free family memberships to the Upper Merion Community Center for those who can’t afford to join. Another family recently received a free membership to the Upper Merion Pool. If successful the Township Foundation hopes to expand these pilot programs. To support these efforts the Township Foundation is registered with Amazon Smile so every time you shop with Amazon 0.5% of your purchase price can be donated to the Township Foundation. Additionally Keystone Shops which is the new medical marijuana shop in King of Prussia has committed to donating 2% of their profits to the Township Foundation. I also expect the Township Foundation to hold fundraisers in the coming year. For more info on the Township Foundation including the Amazon Smile program, donation information and meeting minutes you can click this link.
Homelessness, food insecurity, the broader issue of financial instability and what causes these problems are much too complex to be captured in one brief article. Thankfully organizations like the Community Cupboard and the Township Foundation are trying to help some of our most economically distressed residents, and you can help by supporting their efforts.