Gov. Wolf’s Final Food Security Report Notes 37% Decrease in Food Insecurity Since 2015
December 15, 2022
Upon taking office, Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf immediately prioritized fighting hunger. Today, the Governor’s Food Security Partnership published their final report which revealed a 37% decrease in food insecurity since the beginning of the Wolf Administration.
In an action finalizing his legacy of support to improve access to food for all Pennsylvanians, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order creating the Pennsylvania Food Policy Council.
“Food is a basic human right that has the power to change lives,” said Gov. Wolf. “This Food Policy Council will work for the people of Pennsylvania; to improve their everyday lives and our collective future. It is our responsibility and our duty to take hunger off the table.”
The Pennsylvania Food Policy Council will build on this progress through continued evaluation of the issues facing Pennsylvania’s food system and developing strategies to improve food security and nutrition while reducing food waste. The duties of the nine person council – which will include a director along with the secretaries of the departments of Aging, Agriculture, Education, Environmental Protection, Health, Human Services, and Labor & Industry – will include:
Making recommendations to promote coordination, communication, and joint planning between agency programs and external partners in the private sector to support the food system.
Developing recommendations on improved partnerships to better reach those at the highest risk of hunger and expand food and nutrition delivery systems.
Developing recommendations to reduce food waste across Pennsylvania.
Developing and implementing strategies to expand the use of Pennsylvania agricultural products in public and private food assistance programs.
Developing a Food Action Plan to be updated on a biennial basis and include a strategic plan to accomplish goals and measure progress.
The report released by the Governor’s Food Security Partnership today highlights administration accomplishments, innovations, and recommendations that provide a clear path forward to continued improvements to food security in Pennsylvania.
A key data point identified in the report and used to measure success and necessary improvements over the past eight years, has been the number of food insecure Pennsylvanians and children provided by Feeding America’s Meal Gap Report. In 2015 when Governor Wolf first took office, there were an estimated 1.8 million food-insecure Pennsylvanians and 564,440 food-insecure children. As of the 2022 report, 1.13 million Pennsylvanians and 347,720 children are estimated to be food insecure. A decrease of 37% and 38% respectively.
“Because of the collaborative efforts between public, private, and nonprofit partners, nearly 700,000 of our neighbors, friends, and colleagues no longer have to wonder when or where they may find their next meal, said First Lady Wolf. “And while many of us will not be content until hunger is fully eradicated, we must take this moment to appreciate how far we’ve come, learn from our experiences, and rededicate ourselves to creating a Pennsylvania that is truly hunger free.”
The governor and first lady have worked to reduce barriers to access to food, strike out food apartheid, and support improved access to local, nutritional products for families across the commonwealth since the beginning of the Wolf Administration. In addition to this capstone action of creating the Pennsylvania Food Policy Council, their eight-year legacy includes:
Investing in cold storage infrastructure for food banks to reduce food waste and increase capacity.
Funding the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System, which was enacted in 2010, for the first time in 2015 and increasing its funding annually thereafter, providing farmers the opportunity to put their excess product in the hands of families in need.
Rebranding the Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program to raise awareness, removing proof of income requirements, and offering delivery by DoorDash.
Improving access to fresh, nutritious food in food deserts across the commonwealth through both the Fresh Food Financing Initiative and PA Farm Bill Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Program.
Continually advocating for school children to have consistent access to free, nutritious meals.
Raising income eligibility for Pennsylvanians receiving support from Pennsylvania’s network of food banks and pantries from 150% to 185% to meet the needs of more individuals.
Increasing access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by expanding eligibility to include community college students, launching SNAP online ordering, streamlining the SNAP application for seniors and people with disabilities, and increasing SNAP 50/50 programs to 28 across the state.
In his final budget, Governor Wolf increased funding for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) by $2 million, bringing the total budget to $4.5 million. PASS works to effectively provide a mechanism for the agriculture industry to donate safe, wholesome food products to the non-profit sector while being reimbursed for the costs involved in harvesting, processing, packaging, and transporting these foods. Without PASS, these food products would otherwise be left to rot in the field, be plowed under, be dumped, or be landfilled. Under the Wolf Administration, PASS has distributed more than 22 million pounds of surplus food from farmers to Pennsylvanians in need while simultaneously generating more than $39 million in economic output.
Additionally in the budget, Governor Wolf secured $1 million for Pennsylvania’s first-ever Hunger Free Campus Initiative, heavily advocated for by First Lady Wolf, to help schools create or expand campus food pantries to support the 30% of college students facing food insecurity.
Governor Wolf has served for two terms as a leader consistently at work for the people of Pennsylvania. Learn more about how his Priorities for Pennsylvania have fueled the commonwealth’s comeback, leaving Pennsylvania in a much better place than when he arrived.