About the Podcast:

Director of the Ruth Matthews Bourger Women with Children Program at Misericordia University, Katherine Pohlidal talks about the road blocks many economically disadvantaged, single mothers face when trying to complete a college degree. Her program removes barriers, so moms and their families can grow and thrive.

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Name:

Katherine Pohlidal

Email:

Website:

Her #1 tip to improve access to healthy food:

Anyone can ask where the most need is in their community, what local agencies can answer this need, and how they can join them.

Discussion Takeaways:

Katherine Pohlidal is the Director of the Ruth Matthews Bourger Women with Children Program at Misericordia University with over 20 years of experience as a clinician, case manager, treatment provider and administrator both in clinical treatment settings including the Caron Foundation and in the last 15 years, within higher education at both Ursinus College and Misericordia University. She holds a B.A.in Sociology as well as a M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology from Penn State University and a M.B.A from Alvernia University. Katherine is a Pennsylvania state certified addictions counselor (CADC) and a Pennsylvania state licensed professional counselor (LPC). Katherine has been featured in both local and national news with the Today Show, NPR StoryCorps, the New York Times and the Associated Press for her work with the Women with Children Program at Misericordia. The RMB Women with Children program model, developed by Katherine in 2013, has inspired the new Parent Pathways initiative for the state of Pennsylvania, launched by Governor Wolf in 2019. She was named one of the 20 most influential women in Northeastern Pennsylvania through the Times Leader’s Distinctive Women of 2018.

About Katherine Pohlidal:

  • Katherine is in charge of the Women with Children Program that provides free housing, resources to stabilize family systems, and a four-year college degree to mothers who are at or near the poverty level. This program has a 100% success rate of placing the moms in work after the completion of their degree. 80% of participants also get a master’s degree.
  • Food insecurity was one of biggest issues noted by participating moms. The Women with Children Program initially resorted to food supports like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) to assist. However, SNAP wasn’t enough. With Clancy’s help, food pantries were created in each of the participants’ home and food drop-offs occurred on a regular basis. By normalizing these services, stigma surrounding food access diminished, the mom’s anxiety around food was gone, and everyone in the households could get nourished. The program also outfitted the participants’ kitchens differently at each living space. It wasn’t expected that moms had basic kitchen equipment, so these materials were provided.
  • After having a steady flow food, the moms started to have a new relationship surrounding access. They had an improvement in baseline mental health – feeling less anxious when going to the grocery store, when studying, and knowing their kids can go to school on a full tummy. Their children also behaved better.
  • Poverty can cause people to have a toxic relationship surrounding food. As various community programs - whether their focus is education or addiction reduction - provide food access, participants’ can expand their ability to deal with the bigger issue at hand.
  • When getting food help, the most judgmental space is the grocery store line.
  • How we govern our lives might be very different than those who we serve.
  • We will all be our best, if we do our best. So share your skills, whatever they might be, to support the anti-hunger cause.