Governor’s Budget Proposal Rejects Funding Increase Request
Today, Governor Corbett's proposed budget was announced and effectively flat-funds SFPP at $17.338 million. If funding simply kept pace with food prices, the program would need $24.6 million just to break even.
We fought for it.
You may remember in November (read about it here), we hand-delivered a letter to Governor Corbett signed by 1,240 of Pennsylvania’s hunger relief organizations, religious congregations, student groups, human service agencies and other charitable organizations calling for increased funding for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP). Again in December and January, we asked the public to send an e-mail directly to the governor with the same request and in two short months, more than 700 people e-mailed the governor. In January we also hosted a statewide call-in day. We have reached out to Governor Corbett using every type of communication possible --- but still it went unnoticed.
Why was it so important that the State Food Purchase Program receive an increase in funding?
Funding for SFPP, one of the commonwealth’s most important tools in the fight against hunger, has remained stagnant over the last several years while the number of Pennsylvanians that rely on this program has increased sharply year to year. Needs simply are growing too much, too fast --- especially now that benefit allocations expired Nov. 1 for the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly called “food stamps,” and additional cuts will accompany the recently enacted federal farm bill (read about that Farm Bill here).
How this will affect the people around you every day, and maybe even you.
The State Food Purchase Program provides cash grants to counties for the purchase and distribution of food to low-income individuals. Those 1,240 statewide organizations signed that letter to the governor in November because they all rely on these funds to keep their doors open and maintain their programs and they have all been making do with less than what they need for a long time. From backpack programs that send food home with kids that don’t have access to food during the weekends and programs for seniors that assist them with a weekly meal to hot meals for the working poor, these program all need this funding to operate, and the lines have grown dramatically over the last few years as the funding has remained the same.
Peg Bianca, Executive Director of the Greater Berks Food Bank summed it up when she said, “We have worked so hard with so little for so long and the idea of turning people away is unthinkable, but we simply lack the resources. The need is so great and so real and it is growing. These are REAL people with needs --- children, seniors and parents who are just trying to make ends meet. We were hoping the Governor would see this need; we’ve been fighting an uphill battle for a long time now.”
Read Hunger-Free Pennsylvania’s press release in response to the budget announcement here: http://media.wix.com/ugd/30c384_26d08ba373ff4fe6bb6e0ecdcfb9096f.pdf