Gov. Tom Wolf today unveiled his proposed budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The spending plan keeps funding flat for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS).
The SFPP line item totals $19.188 million, with $1 million of that amount dedicated for PASS. Funding for PASS is incorporated into the SFPP line item and does not have a line item of its own, something we continue to push for, since each program is unique.
Over the last few months, more than 1,500 advocates like you, from every corner of our commonwealth, sent e-mails directly into the Governor’s Office to make the case for how important SFPP and PASS are to the state’s food banks and the critical work we do to feeding hungry families. Thank you so much for your support.
That advocacy will continue throughout this budget process.
SFPP remains one of the state’s most important tools in the fight against hunger. For years, the program has suffered from stagnant funding even as need rose. In 2006-07, the state allotted $18.75 million for SFPP. But now, a full decade later, funding for SFPP is even lower, at $18.188 million. The current budget plan holds that line.
All of this puts enormous pressure on food assistance providers, which is why Hunger-Free Pennsylvania is pushing for $21 million in the current budget. We need additional support to help residents who are turning food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families.
Likewise, additional investments in PASS make sense. With PASS, the state’s charitable food organizations work with Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector and farm communities to feed those in need.
Hunger-Free Pennsylvania is pushing for a $5 million investment that would yield between 50 million and 150 million pounds of fresh produce and generate huge economic benefits for the state’s agricultural industry through increased commerce and a reduction of agricultural waste --- a true win-win scenario.
It’s true: Our state faces some monument fiscal challenges. But our challenges as charitable food providers are enormous, too.
There is little doubt that the governor is committed to fighting hunger. His entire family has volunteered its time over the years, and his administration has made the issue a priority. We are grateful for that support.
As the budget process continues, and we will continue our fight to do all we can to truly achieve our single goal --- a “hunger-free Pennsylvania.”