Two-thirds of Pa. Voters Support Additional Funding for Food Banks
State’s charitable food network has been hit hard by increased demand, which continues to surge amid COVID-19 pandemic
HARRISBURG, Pa. (Feb. 23, 2021) --- More than two-thirds (69.1%) of Pennsylvania voters support increased state funding for the state’s charitable food network, including those who identify as Republican (54.8%), Democrat (81.9%) and Independent (66.7%), according to results of a statewide public opinion poll conducted by G. Terry Madonna Opinion Research.
“Hunger knows no political boundaries,” said Sheila Christopher, Executive Director of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, which commissioned the poll with Feeding Pennsylvania. “It has always been there, in every corner of the state, in every community, affecting people we know. The pandemic has only heightened the challenges our food banks face every day.”
Gov. Tom Wolf recently 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.
But Pennsylvania’s two leading anti-hunger organizations cautioned that demand is still surging as families continue to cope with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 health-care crisis.
“It’s simply not possible to go back to pre-pandemic funding levels, because there really is no end in sight right now of the surging demand,” Feeding Pennsylvania Executive Director Jane Clements-Smith said. “More and more people are relying on our food banks, and more and more people are showing their support for our critical mission.”
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.
Last year, to meet 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.
The poll, conducted by ProBusinessConnection in February, interviewed 650 registered voters in the state in February. The margin of error is +/-4.7 percent.
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MEDIA CONTACTS: Jane Clements-Smith, Executive Director
P: 570-867-3044 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheila Christopher, Executive Director
P: 724-941-1472 | E: email@example.com
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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.