State’s Charitable Food Banks Continue to Face High Demand
Food banks simply cannot go back to pre-pandemic funding levels while they are still amid COVID-19 health-care crisis
HARRISBURG, Pa. (Feb. 3, 2021) --- Pennsylvania’s two leading anti-hunger organizations today commended the administration and General Assembly for providing additional assistance to food banks during the height of the pandemic, but also cautioned that demand is still surging as families continue to cope with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 health-care crisis.
Gov. Tom Wolf today outlined his proposed 2021-22 General Fund budget, which included level funding of $18.188 million for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and a $1 million increase to $2.5 million for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) --- two of the state’s most critical anti-hunger programs.
“We are grateful for the support the commonwealth has provided to get food to our most vulnerable residents in response to the current health-care crisis and hunger epidemic. With no end in sight, however, even more help will be needed in the next fiscal year,” said Feeding Pennsylvania Executive Director Jane Clements-Smith.
“The state’s charitable food network continues to meet higher-than-usual demands across the state, but we need help,” said Hunger-Free Pennsylvania Executive Director Sheila Christopher. “We look forward to continuing our work with the administration and General Assembly to help the increasing number of neighbors in our communities who are struggling with hunger and food insecurity.”
In normal times, far too many Pennsylvanians are challenged by hunger. The ongoing COVID-19 has made this struggle measurably worse. Since mid-March, more than 600,000 additional Pennsylvanians have found themselves uncertain of where their next meal will come from.
To meet this surging demand, both SFPP and PASS received extra funding through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, with SFPP getting a $15 million boost on top of the $18.188 million appropriated by the state and PASS receiving another $10 million on top of its original $1.5 allocated in the 2020-21 state budget.
But demand has not subsided, and the need is still so significant that food banks simply cannot go back to pre-pandemic funding levels while they are still in the middle of this health-care crisis, which is why Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania are seeking $24 million for SFPP and $5 million for PASS in the state’s 2021-22 fiscal year budget.
SFPP is a lifeline for food banks across Pennsylvania, helping all 67 counties purchase and distribute food to low-income families and seniors. SFPP also helps food banks finance transportation and infrastructure improvements to meet increasing demands while also accessing federal food commodities.
Pennsylvania’s agriculture sector, farm communities and food insecure residents all benefit from PASS, which redirects millions of pounds of Pennsylvania-grown agricultural products that might otherwise go to waste to organizations that provide nutritious meals.
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MEDIA CONTACTS: Jane Clements-Smith, Executive Director
P: 570-867-3044 | E: Jjclemsmith@feedingpa.org
Sheila Christopher, Executive Director
P: 724-941-1472 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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About Feeding Pennsylvania:
Feeding Pennsylvania is a collaborative effort of nine Feeding America-affiliated food banks in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The mission of Feeding Pennsylvania is to promote and aid our member food banks in securing food and other resources to reduce hunger and food insecurity in our communities and across Pennsylvania and to provide a shared voice on the issues of hunger and food access within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For more information about Feeding Pennsylvania, please visit www.feedingpa.org, connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FeedingPennsylvania, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @FeedingPA.
About Hunger-Free Pennsylvania:
Hunger-Free Pennsylvania comprises a network of food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, charities and other hunger relief organizations working together to end hunger in Pennsylvania. The network has 18 members serving all 67 counties. Learn more about Hunger-Free Pennsylvania online: www.hungerfreepa.org, or via Facebook: www.facebook.com/HungerFreePA.