Guv’s SFPP Proposal is B.I.G.
I’m not sure what else to say.
I’ve been at this anti-hunger thing for nearly three decades now. I admit it: I thought I’d seen it all.
But then, on March 3, Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his 2015-16 draft spending plan, which proposed a 16.6 percent increase in funding for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP).
The proposed increase, from $17.4 million today to $20.3 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year, represents one of the most significant proposed increases in SFPP’s history (if not the biggest).
Yes, we’re a long way off from a final spending plan. So we’re all going to need to work hard to ensure this funding increase stays in place in the final SFPP line item.
But what a way we’ve come.
We’ve turned a corner from recent budgets that cut SFPP funding, kept it level, or gave it marginal bumps that didn’t even cover the inflationary cost of food or fuel.
So to walk into the budget process with a 16 percent increase? That’s a great start. Now we have to protect it.
SFPP is one of the commonwealth’s most important tools in the fight against hunger, and for years, it has been chronically underfunded.
Gov. Wolf clearly understands this.
That’s probably because he’s no stranger to our cause. He has donated money to food banks, including twice during his recent gubernatorial campaign and post-election, and he and his family have regularly volunteered at local soup kitchens.
An estimated 2 million people in Pennsylvania --- one in seven --- turn to food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families. This includes more than 532,000 children and more than 246,000 seniors.
This budget is just the first step to ensure SFPP finally gets adequate funding to help feed those in need. Again, it’s a long process. But as they say, every journey begins with the first step.