• Hunger-Free Pennsylvania

Rising Food Prices, Sustained Demand Straining Food Banks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Rising Food Prices, Sustained Demand Straining Food Banks

Charitable food network seeking $24 million for SFPP in 2022-23 budget


HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 13, 2022) --- For the year ended April 2022, prices for food at home increased 10.8 percent, the largest 12-month percentage increase since the period ending November 1980, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Rising food prices and increased demand are straining the state’s charitable food network, according to Sheila Christopher, Executive Director of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania.


Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2022-23 General Fund budget would increase funding by $2 million to $4.5 million for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) while holding the line at $20.188 million for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), two of the state’s most important anti-hunger programs. But SFPP is in dire need of an increase.


To meet rising food costs and address residents’ increased reliance on food banks --- the May 2022 food bank distribution report shows the number of pounds [+8%], people [+9%] and households [+9%] served is up over both 2021 and 2020, during the height of the pandemic --- the SFPP allocation would need to increase to $24 million.


“Demand for food assistance remains above pre-pandemic levels, and new challenges continue to put a strain on food banks’ operations,” Christopher said. “Higher fuel prices and inflationary costs are cutting into the limited resources food banks have to operate. The rising cost of food is a significant hardship not only for families, but services like ours that want to ensure everyone who needs a meal can get one.”

SFPP remains 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 access federal food commodities and finance transportation and infrastructure improvements. When food prices rise, SFPP funding doesn’t go as far, and that’s troubling since demand keeps rising.


Along with the governor’s recommendation of a $2 million increase in PASS, the General Assembly needs to increase the state food purchase program by $3.812 million, or 19%, to account for food cost increases and request for food assistance.


The COVID-19 pandemic created a dramatic increase in demands on Pennsylvania’s emergency food assistance network, one that has not fully subsided. Utilization is still high across the state. Rising food and fuel costs, along with supply constraints, have added additional pressures on the state’s charitable food networks.

“Charitable food providers have made unprecedented efforts to access and distribute food to impacted populations, but the operational challenges these food banks face to continue to meet demand remain far too great without additional state support,” Christopher said.

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MEDIA CONTACTS: Sheila Christopher, Executive Director

Hunger-Free Pennsylvania

P: 412-290-3045| E: sachristopher@pafoodbanks.org

www.hungerfreepa.org


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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.


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