Morning Must Reads: Rising Demand for Meals On Wheels in Reading and Fines for a Hershey Co. Subcontractor

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The Reading Eagle reports meals on wheels for low-income and disabled adults is short of cash thanks to rising demand and falling state support.

Because of state budget cuts, a Berks County Meals on Wheels program is running out of money and won't be able to operate between March and July unless new funds are found.

The special program is $7,000 short...The program has almost doubled in the number of meals served in the past two years...

"Last month, we served 370 meals (at a cost of $5.84 per person), but we are trying to keep a cap on participation in the program." Kropf said. "We are turning people away because we don't have enough money."

The U.S. Labor Department has fined the Hershey Co. Contractor that inspired a crack down on J-1 Visa violations.

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Exel Inc. for nine workplace safety and health violations and proposed fines of $291,000 against the company.

Ohio-based Exel, which runs the distribution center for The Hershey Co., said it will appeal.

The citations stem from an investigation initiated after about 200 foreign exchange students walked off the job and demonstrated in August.

The students said they were overworked and underpaid and given a cultural-exchange experience that was far less than what they expected...

OSHA cited Exel for alleged violations that include failing to record work-related injuries and illnesses over a four-year period and failing to carry out an effective program to protect workers’ hearing.

OSHA also cited SHS Staffing Solutions, the Lemoyne-based staffing company that hired the students. SHS faces a proposed penalty of $5,000 for allegedly failing to properly train the workers...

Jeff Beckman, a spokesman for The Hershey Co., referred questions to Exel, and noted that Exel was responsible for the staffing and operation of the distribution center, which is in Palmyra.

The National Guestworker Alliance
organized last summer’s walkout and has advocated for the foreign students.

The alliance said Tuesday that the citations “vindicate the claims by our members that Hershey’s subcontractors, Exel and SHS, ignored and repressed complaints about serious health and safety violations over a period of many years.”

It called the situation a “case study of the way a major corporation uses a subcontracting giant to kill decent U.S. jobs.”

The Philadelphia Daily News reports state budgets could jeopardize federal funds for HIV/AIDS programs in Philadelphia.

THE CITY'S mental-health, homeless and human-services programs would be cut to the bone should Gov. Corbett's proposed budget pass, and city officials warn that it's bad news for Philly's most vulnerable residents...

More than 400 community residential beds would be eliminated, as well as case-management services for people with chronic severe mental illness and those with substance-abuse issues.

Homeless-outreach services would be reduced, and detoxification, residential-rehab inpatient and outpatient treatment would be eliminated.

Additionally, there would be a loss of hospice beds for those with AIDS; a reduction in nursing-home beds and maternal- and child-health services, including those for families with children of special needs; and prenatal care for the uninsured...

The cuts could jeopardize $24 million in federal funds for the city's HIV/AIDS programs, may lead to an increase in homeless and prison populations, and more costs for the Department of Human Services and more demand for emergency shelter.

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