SFPP, PASS receive additional support in FY 2021-22 Budget
HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 28, 2021) — Two of the state’s most important anti-hunger programs, the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS), received a boost in the final 2021-22 General Fund budget to address an increased demand that continues to strain food banks in the wake of COVID-19.
In April, Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and Feeding Pennsylvania reported that their statewide network of regional food banks distributed more than 262 million pounds of food over a 52-week period last year during the health-care crisis. By comparison, the network distributed 164 million pounds of food during the same period in 2019.
More Pennsylvanians are turning to their local food banks for help — some for the first time. The total number of people served totaled 29.6 million in 2020 compared to 13.3 million in 2019. (These numbers reflect total visits, meaning more people are relying on food banks for sustained assistance rather than stopgap, temporary aid.)
To help the organizations address these challenges, the budget would allocate $19.688 million to SFFP, an increase of $2 million, and $2.5 million to PASS, a $1 million increase. The legislature over the weekend sent the final spending plan to the governor, who said he would sign it.
“This funding will go a long way to helping us meet a demand that has not subsided,” said Sheila Christopher, Executive Director of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania. “In normal times, far too many Pennsylvanians are challenged by hunger, but COVID-19 has made this struggle measurably worse for residents in need and those who try to help them.”
“We’re grateful to the General Assembly and administration for recognizing that food banks simply cannot go back to pre-pandemic funding levels,” said Jane Clements, Executive Director of Feeding Pennsylvania. “The need is still far too great.”
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.
A recent survey from the United Way of Pennsylvania reinforced the growing need. Its second COVID-19 impact survey, which came out earlier this month, showed more than 1.3 million (27%) Pennsylvania households are one emergency away from financial crisis, and food insecurity is among the chief challenges.
According to the survey, 44% of respondents received food from a food pantry or food bank, and respondents with households below a United Way-determined threshold reported being unable to afford food at a rate of 48%, nearly three times that of households above the threshold. When asked what COVID-19 issues is your household most concerned about over the next two months, 39% of families at that threshold said providing enough food for the household.
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, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
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.