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  • Writer's pictureHunger-Free Pennsylvania

PA Hunger Action Coalition Unveils ‘End Hunger Checklist’ to Support Anti-Hunger Network, Combat Food Insecurity



 

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MEDIA CONTACT: Rebecca Patterson 

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PA Hunger Action Coalition Unveils ‘End Hunger Checklist’ to Support Anti-Hunger Network, Combat Food Insecurity 

 

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Apr. 9, 2024) --- With food banks and other anti-hunger groups already facing unprecedented demand, the PA Hunger Action Coalition (PHAC) today outlined several recommendations to address food insecurity in the commonwealth, support the state’s charitable food network, and adequately fund anti-hunger programs in the 2024-25 budget. 

 

PHAC comprises dozens of anti-hunger, religious, anti-poverty, socio-economic, and other nonprofit organizations working not only to fight hunger but also to address the underlying policy issues that perpetuate food insecurity. Among the priority programs in the state’s draft spending plan are the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) and Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program. 

 

“Hunger-Free Pennsylvania will mark its 40th anniversary later this year, and the food banks in our network are facing demand and utilization rates that are unlike anything they have ever seen, with many surpassing the peaks we witnessed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sheila Christopher, Executive Director of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania. “SFPP remains the foundation of our anti-hunger programs. But funding isn’t keeping pace to meet current demands. We need to ensure SFPP is adequately funded, otherwise the whole system we have for helping families in need really is in jeopardy.” 

 

“As demand at food banks outpaces available resources, we need investments that benefit the entire commonwealth,” said Julie Bancroft, CEO of Feeding Pennsylvania. “Investing in the PA Agricultural Surplus System supports a network of over 200 agricultural producers and feeds more than a million households each year.” 

 

PHAC also is pressing for universal school meals. School meals reduce childhood hunger; decrease childhood weight issues and obesity; improve child nutrition and wellness; enhance child development and school readiness; support learning, attendance, and behavior; and contribute to positive mental health outcomes. 

 

“Pennsylvania currently provides no-cost school breakfast to all K-12 students. But when it comes to lunch, many students are left to fend for themselves. Why do we provide one meal and not the other?” asked Nicole Melia, food service supervisor of the Great Valley School District in Malvern, Chester County, and the public policy and legislative chair for the School Nutrition Association of PA. “Polling shows eight in 10 Pennsylvania voters support expanding no-cost breakfast to include lunch. That’s because school meals are as essential to education as technology, transportation, and textbooks.” 

 

Increasing the minimum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as making other state-based changes with SNAP, is a priority for the group. Continued support for the senior food box program also is important. 

 

Adam Peterson, Senior Programs Manager at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, shared how funding is used to support seniors by delivering food boxes directly to their homes. “We know that nutrition plays an important role in seniors’ health and their ability to age in place,” he said. “Since we began home delivery a few years ago, Pennsylvania has been one of only a handful of states across the country to increase the number of participants in the Senior Food Box Program.” 

 

Nick Imbesi, Senior Manager, Advocacy & Government Relations, Chester County Food Bank, shared a story of a neighbor, Joan, in Southern Chester County, who has a heart condition and required life-saving treatment; however, she was unable to miss work at her part-time job at a local grocery store to have the necessary surgery. “She was forced to choose between life-saving surgery and being able to afford food,” Imbesi said. “Because of SNAP, she was able to get her life-threatening condition taken care of while not worrying about where her next meal would come from.” 

 

PHAC was joined by Sen. Elder Vogel Jr. (R-Beaver, Butler and Lawrence) and Rep. Emily Kinkead (D-Allegheny), co-chairs of the bipartisan Hunger Caucus. 

 

“Our food banks and food pantries, as well as our Capitol Hunger Garden, play a pivotal role in fighting food insecurity in our communities,” Vogel said. “I commend these organizations for all they do to serve Pennsylvanians in need and continue to help raise awareness about the impact hunger has on our Commonwealth.” 

 

“Funding free school breakfast through the state budget for the first time last year was a bold step in the fight against child hunger,” Kinkead said. “I want to keep that momentum going and secure free school lunch for every public school student in the Commonwealth. It’s kind of backwards that a Pennsylvania family of four making $56,000 does not qualify for free lunch, but a family of four making $150,000 can receive private school scholarships. 

 

“As co-chair of the legislative Hunger Caucus, I’m working toward expanding food access for our most vulnerable residents in the upcoming budget negotiations and policy discussions in Harrisburg,” she said. 

 

According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the cost of food has risen 27% in the last five years. Straining family budgets has led to increased demand for food banks. Food inflation also prevents charitable food networks from stretching their dollars to serve more people. 

 

CLICK HERE for a fact sheet that details all PHAC’s priorities. 

 

The Pennsylvania Hunger Action Coalition (PHAC) comprises anti-hunger, religious, anti-poverty, economic, and other nonprofit groups working not only to fight hunger but also to address the underlying policy issues that perpetuate food insecurity. 

 

Visit hungerfreepa.org/our-work to learn more. 

 

PHAC Members Include: 

Allies for Children*Benefits Data Trust*Brandywine Health Foundation*Bucks County Opportunity Council*Bucks County Women Advocacy Coalition*Cambria County Backpack Program*Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy*Center for Hunger-Free Communities*Center for Population Health*Central PA Food Bank*Chester County Community Foundation*Children Hunger Outreach Partners*Coalition for Low Income Pennsylvanians*Community Action Agency of Delaware County*Community Action Association of PA*Community Legal Services*Community Partnership, Inc.*Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission*Family Health Council of Central PA*Family Health Council of Central PA*Fayette County Community Action Agency*Feeding Pennsylvania*Food for Families*Food Helpers*FRAC*Franklin County*Gateway Health Plan*Great Valley School District*Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank*Health Care Decisions*Healthy Blair County Coalition*Helping Harvest*Hillman Family Foundation*Housing Alliance of PA*Hunger-Free PA*Hunters Sharing the Harvest*Indiana County Community Action Program*Jewish Family Services of Greater Harrisburg, Inc.*Jewish Healthcare Foundation*Just Harvest*Lebanon Valley College*Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council*Lutheran Advocacy Ministries in PA*Manna on Main Street*Mercer County Food Bank*Milk4U*MontCo Anti-Hunger Solutions*Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services*North Penn School District*PA Budget & Policy Center*PA Cancel Lunch Debt Coalition*PA Catholic Conference*PA Dept of Aging*PA Dept of Agriculture*PA Dept of Education*PA Dept of Health*PA Dept of Human Services*PA Food Merchants Association*PA Food Policy Council*PA Health Funders Collaborative*PA Jewish Council*PA Partnership*PA State Council of Farm Organizations*PA State Educators Association*Partnership for Better Health*Penn State University*People’s Emergency Center*Philabundance*Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger*Philadelphia Department of Health*Philadelphia Office of Children & Families*Philadelphia School District*Phoenixville Area Community Services*Phoenixville Community Health Foundation*Pittsburgh Policy Council*Pottstown Foundation*School Nutrition Association of PA*Share Food Program*Share Our Strength*SHFB of Lehigh Valley & NE PA*SHFB of Northwest PA*Shippensburg University*The Food Trust*The Foundation for Delaware County*The Leo & Peggy Pierce Family Foundation*The Shippensburg Community Resource Coalition*Thomas Jefferson University*United Way of PA*University of PA College of Arts & Science*Weinberg NE PA Regional Food Bank*Westmoreland County Food Bank*York County Food Bank. 

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