Feeding Pennsylvania promotes and aids our member food banks in securing food and other resources to reduce hunger and food insecurity in their communities and across Pennsylvania.
Secretary of Agriculture visited Mercer County farm to highlight the $20 million CARES Act support and relief for Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers
In June, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding visited the Ralph Moore Dairy Farm in Mercer, one of more than 30 Pennsylvania dairy farms supported by the state’s acquisition of more than 200,000 pounds of Swiss cheese – stranded from COVID-19 supply chain disruptions – to distribute through Pennsylvania’s charitable food system with funds from the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) and the state’s Farm to Food Bank award.
On the farm, Secretary Redding highlighted more than $20 million available in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers, announced yesterday by Governor Tom Wolf, following months of uncertainty and loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In total, $476,842 was used to source more than 100,000 packages of cheese that will be distributed to those in need across the state through the 13 food banks participating in the PASS program.
The cheese, produced by Fairview Swiss Cheese in Fredonia, was left without a market due to food supply chain disruptions as a result of COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Through PASS, the department acquired the cheese and contracted with Laubscher Cheese Company in Mercer to slice and package it in consumer-sized packaging. In addition to providing support to Fairview Swiss Cheese and area dairy farms, this initiative allowed Laubscher Cheese Company to bring ten furloughed employees back to work to slice, package, and distribute the product.
The $20 million in dairy support is through two programs: the Pennsylvania COVID-19 Dairy Indemnity Program, funded at $15 million and a $5 million dairy-only PASS program to secure surplus dairy products for distribution through the commonwealth’s charitable food system. Both programs are federally funded through the CARES Act.
Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County Launches Drive-Thru Style Emergency Food Distribution
The Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County started hosting drive-thru food distributions for anyone needing food assistance in Mercer County during the pandemic.
In partnership with the Mercer County Department of Public Safety, public food distributions were held to provide food for almost 900 families.
The food distributions are mass distributions in Mercer County that came as a result of a partnership with USDA to provide charitable boxes of farm-fresh foods through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
The pandemic has imposed challenges for both farmers and food banks as they have experienced a disruption in the food supply chain and food banks have seen a 50% increase in the demand for food assistance. CFAP is a substantial measure taken by USDA to help solve these issues.
The funding for the food boxes in this program will compensate the farms and food processors to package the products to distribute through the charitable food system. “The Community Food Warehouse, one of 9 food banks in Pennsylvania, welcomes this abundance of food to help feed our residents in Mercer County and we will be hosting several mass distributions in the coming months,” says Lori Weston, Executive Director.