The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 5, 2013

Poverty simulation scheduled for May 21

JOHNSTOWN — Time to buy dinner.

You walk a little more than a mile to the dollar store in order to save the bus fare.

A 28-ounce can of green beans for $1.95. Two boxes of off-brand mac and cheese for $1. A one-pound cooked canned ham at a price of $3.25. Not bad, only a little more than $6 to feed one adult, two teenagers and an 8-year old.

Maybe even pick up a dozen of eggs at the nearby grocery store for breakfast tomorrow.

Then you remember, the children still want new toothbrushes, the house is all out of soap and the youngest needs cough medicine, and you planned to spend only $10 all day.

No eggs. You put the ham back, too. There is no money for milk or butter; you’ll mix the bright orange cheese powder with water.

It will be a dinner of mealy pasta and salty beans for around $3.

Many residents of Johnstown – where one-third of the population lives below the poverty line – face those kind of financial decisions every day.

Cambria County Health and Welfare Council and Community Action Partnership of Cambria County want to educate others about the choices those struggling to financially get by must make. On  May 21, the groups will hold a simulation, called Walk a Day in My Shoes: Understanding Poverty, at Greater Johns-town High School. The event will include having some of the area’s most influential citizens figure out how to get through the day, while spending only $10.

“Most of us are not really conscious of what we’re spending every day,” said Rev. Wayne Cleary, pastor of Elton Zion United Methodist Church, who will assist with the simulation. “We just spend it because we have it in our pocket.”

A main goal of the simulation is to teach local educators, politicians and other community leaders about poverty, so they can better shape policies to assist needy individuals.

“It’s going to be an awakening for a lot of people,” said Oscar Cashaw, another person helping with the event.

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