TribLIVE podcast network

On this week’s episode of the Food Podcast, presented by Clearview Federal Credit Union on the TribLIVE podcast network, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank looks into transportation and how it impacts food access and food security for families in the Three Rivers Region.

“The problem comes when low-income individuals are making their transportation decisions based on weighing the benefits of the transportation with the costs of that transportation,” said Food Bank Chief Program Officer Marnie Schilken. “What that means for us at the Food Bank is that transportation becomes another trade-off issue, where individuals may have a harder time making ends meet in terms of purchasing food because they’re trying to save money to cover their transportation costs.”

It’s one of the reasons Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is excited to partner with Heritage Community Initiatives to distribute 550 free rider cards to multiple Food Bank locations in eastern Allegheny County. This will allow neighbors in need unlimited access to Heritage’s fixed-route transit service that covers Monroeville, McKeesport and East Pittsburgh. The program is scheduled to run for three months, at which point an extension will be considered based on the success of the program.

“Access to reliable transportation continues to be a hurdle for the families that we serve,” said Lisa Scales, president and CEO of the Food Bank. “Heritage’s community-focused transit program already includes multiple food assistance locations on its current route, so this partnership was a natural extension of the services that both nonprofits provide to those in need. Now families will not only easier access to food, but also to many other resources included on Heritage’s transit system.”

Over the past 21 years, Heritage Community Transportation has provided 1.5 million rides on its fixed-route transit system that runs through 16 communities, providing riders with access to work, healthcare and shopping for only $0.25 a ride.

“For nearly four decades, Heritage has served families in 40 communities within Eastern Allegheny County through vital education, transportation and nutrition programs,” said Heritage president and CEO Paula McWilliams. “Connecting youth and senior populations to critical healthy food resources is central to our organization’s mission, which includes serving more than 100,000 meals each year via our nutrition services program.”

To get connected, visit Heritage Community Initiatives or the Pittsburgh Food Bank websites.

Listen: The Food Bank talks about transportation and how it impacts food access and security for families in the Three Rivers Region