HFPA’s 2020-21 Budget Preview
Gov. Tom Wolf, Aging Sec. Robert Torres and members of the legislature stood shoulder to shoulder Jan. 22 during an event in Philadelphia to announce several new initiatives geared toward protecting Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations, including families who struggle to put nutritious meals on their tables each and every day.
These efforts were just a preview of what the governor intends to include as part of his 2020-21 budget proposal, which he’ll unveil Feb. 4 before a joint session of the General Assembly. In all, these initiatives represent more than $40 million in new spending to help those in need.
Among the initiatives is an additional investment of $1 million in the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) that would further address food insecurity in Pennsylvania and ensure more residents have access to healthy meals for their families.
Through PASS, the Department of Agriculture provides funding to cover the costs associated with harvesting, processing, packaging, and transporting surplus products including fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, meat, and grains in order to donate those items to the charitable food system. Current funding has allowed healthy and nutritious surplus food to be brought into the charitable food system to nourish 1.6 million Pennsylvanians who struggle to put food on the table.
What remains to be seen is what the governor will propose for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP).
Since 1983, the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) has been the foundation for Pennsylvania’s food banks and food pantries in the public-private effort to meet the most basic needs of hungry families. SFPP helps organizations purchase foods and nutritional supplements, finance food provider transportation and infrastructure, and gain access to federal food commodities.
In 2006-07, the state allotted $18.75 million for SFPP. More than a decade later, SFPP funding has DECREASED to $18.188, even as everything from the cost of food to transportation fuel has increased. To simply keep up with inflation, which has increased 27.4% since 2006, SFPP should total $24 million.
We care deeply about our neighbors struggling with hunger and food insecurity. We know you do, too. We will be watching the budget and will be sure to keep you posted.