Report: Bucks County middle class struggling

In Bucks, a family with a household income of $50,000 has just $50 left every week after covering basic needs, according to a study by Public Citizens for Children and Youth. For families faced with unplanned expenses, food is often the first and easiest place to cut.

A recent report from Public Citizens for Children and Youth presented some startling findings about Bucks County’s middle class.

In Bucks County, a family with a household income of $50,000 will have far less breathing room in their budgets than previously believed.

According to this study, these hard-working families have only $50 per week left after covering basic needs, like housing, health care, transportation, utilities, childcare and food.

This does not account for purchases like clothes, hair cuts and school supplies — or luxuries like birthday presents and occasional family outings.

With limited discretionary income, families struggle to make ends meet — particularly when faced with a one-time financial challenge, like a medical expense or a car repair.

Local nonprofit leaders note that for these families, food is often the first and easiest place to make a cut.

“People who are living under-resourced, have very little, if any financial cushion when an unexpected event, such as a car repair, causes a financial spiral,” says Tammy Schoonover, director of Community Services at Bucks County Opportunity Council. “That spiral forces an under-resourced family into a series of tradeoffs, like skipping meals so that they can pay for that unexpected car repair bill, so they can get to work.”

While skipping meals or relying on cheaper, highly processed foods can feel like a good, short-term fix for struggling families, it also has health consequences.

“A diet full of highly processed foods, though convenient, will only load someone up with excess sugar, salt and fat and cannot provide their body with the tools it needs to stay strong, healthy and happy,” says Deborah Davis, an outpatient dietician with Doylestown Nutrition Services.

Hunger relief programs like Bucks Knocks Out Hunger and Fresh Connect, both funded by United Way of Bucks County, are designed to help these families.

“A family of four with two adults working full time at or near minimum wage, would be eligible to participate,” said Tim Philpot, United Way of Bucks County’s point person for these programs. “Fortunately, we can provide healthy meals and fresh produce to these families, instead of processed foods and junk.”

The funds raised to support these hunger relief sites are vital.

Cathy Snyder is the founder and executive director of Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, an organization that receives funds each year from Bucks Knocks Out Hunger. “BKO funds allow us to get much-needed local produce to vulnerable folks that really need it, while supporting our local farmers at the same time,” she said.

Bucks Knocks Out Hunger still needs to raise $33,000 to meet the goal of $85,000. Donations are accepted online at and through coin canisters in businesses throughout the county (a list of locations is available at the website). Contributions also may be made at branches of Penn Community Bank or by mailing a check (note BKO Hunger on the memo line) to United Way, 413 Hood Blvd., Fairless Hills, PA 19030.


Join us in changing lives in Bucks County for good by making a donation today. Donations can be made online or by mailing a check to, United Way of Bucks County, 413 Hood Blvd., Fairless Hills, PA 19030.