Donna Knowlden's two children don't participate in after-school programs or recreational activities because she can't afford the fees.
The single mother's $5.60-per-hour job slinging dough at Ambassador Pizza doesn't put enough money in her purse for extras like T-ball for her 6-year-old son."I don't have $15. I'm barely even getting my bills paid," she said.
Knowlden, 37, was among two dozen people including members of the Utah County chapter of J.E.D.I. for Women who rallied outside the Provo City Center Wednesday to call for "living wages."
The demonstration coincided with Mayor Lewis Billings' Mayor's Night In, a periodic public forum at which residents raise issues of concern.
"The minimum wage is simply not a living wage," said Francine Rushton, J.E.D.I. for Women county organizer.
The group wants local government leaders to acknowledge that the minimum-wage work keeps families in poverty. Members asked the mayor to draft a resolution supporting an increase in the $5.15 per hour federal standard. They're calling for a 50-cent an hour raise for the next two years.
Demonstrators found a listening ear in Billings even though as a municipal government official there isn't anything he can do about the federally established minimum wage.
"I respect the issues they are facing," he said. It's important to talk about them and find ways to help resolve them, he said. Billings said seasonal jobs in the city pay $6 to $7 an hour.
One man carrying a sign reading, "You hold the key to set us free. Offer us living wages now," had a ball and chain strapped to his ankle.
Rushton said full-time, minimum-wage workers aren't able to survive on $10,712 a year in today's economy, a salary that puts a family of three $2,600 below the poverty line.
"I make a little more than minimum wage, but I still cannot support a family on it," said Knowlden, adding she's not knocking her employer.
Knowlden, who works full time and rents a two-bedroom apartment for $541 a month, said it's difficult to teach her children that hard work pays off while her family struggles.
"I want them to know if you want something, you have to work for it," she said. "If people are willing to work, they should be paid decently."
A family of three needs to earn at least $10.50 per hour to not spend more than 30 percent of its income on housing along the Wasatch Front, Rushton said.