Feeding Pennsylvania recognizes the challenges hunger relief organizations face in assisting our neighbors in need and is uniquely positioned to provide solutions. However, we also recognize that we alone cannot fully meet these challenges. Fighting hunger requires a private/public partnership, and our food banks rely on federal and state investments in critical anti-hunger programs to help us meet this challenge.
With so many families struggling to make ends meet and food banks stretched thin, we urge the United States Congress to protect and strengthen anti-hunger programs. Furthermore, we urge the Wolf Administration and the Pennsylvania State Legislature to provide a necessary increase in funding for the State Food Purchase Program to $21 million.
Annual Federal Appropriations
Feeding Pennsylvania is engaged in advocating for a strong federal anti-hunger safety net through the annual appropriations process and ensuring programs like SNAP, TEFAP (which provides commodity foods for short-term hunger relief), CSFP (which provides food to low-income seniors), and WIC (which provides nutrition assistance and education to pregnant and nursing women, infants, and children) have adequate funding to meet the need.
Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System
PASS is an innovative program for putting healthy and nutritious food grown by Pennsylvania farmers into the charitable food system. Through PASS, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture provides funding for charitable organizations to offset the costs of harvesting, packing, and transporting fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, beef, pork, and poultry (much-needed items at food banks and their agencies) from Pennsylvania producers, thereby reducing the cost. Significant portions of the product purchased through PASS is food that is perfectly nutritious and edible but might otherwise become waste. PASS was initially funded in 2016 for $1 million, and made a significant impact through our charitable network. In 2018, PASS funding increased to $1.5 million. We are advocating for continued funding, as well as recommending an increase to $3 million for the full potential of PASS. A letter of support for PASS from partners throughout the Pennsylvania agricultural community can be found here.
Pennsylvania State Food Purchase Program
Pennsylvania’s State Food Purchase Program provides essential funding to all 67 counties to support the purchase and distribution of food to our most vulnerable, low-income citizens, and to provide enhanced access to surplus federal food commodities. These funds are intended to supplement the efforts of food banks, food pantries, and similar organizations in their efforts to reduce hunger. Along with our other anti-hunger partners in PA, Feeding Pennsylvania is engaged in advocating for strong funding for this program.
Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act
The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act authorizes all of the federal child nutrition programs, including the School Breakfast, National School Lunch, Child and Adult Care Food, Summer Food Service, and WIC. These programs provide funding to ensure that low-income children have access to healthy and nutritious foods where they live, play, and learn. Our priorities include continuing to expand the reach of the After School Meal Program, strengthening the Summer Nutrition Programs, continuing to support the momentum of school breakfast expansion in every state, and ensuring that school children have access to nutritious foods during weekends and extended school holidays.
Blueprint for a Hunger-free Pennsylvania
In September 2016, the Governor’s Food Security Partnership released Setting the Table: a Blueprint for a Hunger-free Pennsylvania. We support the goals and recommendations of the blueprint to reduce hunger in the commonwealth. Key goals by 2020 include increasing awareness and participation in existing programs such as SNAP, WIC, and free and reduced-price school breakfast and lunch, forming local food alliances, availability of SNAP bucks at high-need farmers’ markets, streamlined access to food security information and education, and improved access to healthy, nutritious food.
Please help us advocate for public policy change on the federal, state and local levels. The easiest way to do that is by contacting your members of Congress, using the tools found here or the information below.