PASS receives $2 million boost, SFPP funded at 2021-22 level
HARRISBURG, Pa. (Feb. 8, 2022) — Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed 2022-23 General Fund budget would increase funding by $2 million for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) while holding the line on the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), two of the state’s most important anti-hunger programs.
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 draft spending plan would increase PASS funding from $2.5 million to $4.5 million.
“PASS is a critical program that supports farmers and processors while getting nutritious Pennsylvania-produced food to the tables of food-insecure families. But with 53,000 farms in Pennsylvania, we can and should do more,” said Jane Clements, Chief Executive Officer of Feeding Pennsylvania. “We are grateful for this added support from the administration and look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure adequate funding to support both farmers and families in all 67 counties.”
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. The budget would hold the line on SFPP at $20.188 million. Last fiscal year, the program received a $2 million boost to its current level to help food banks meet pandemic-related demands.
“We appreciate the continued support of the administration and look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure adequate funding to address the challenges our food banks continue to face,” said Sheila Christopher, Executive Director of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania. “It has been a trying few years, with one challenge after another, and it hasn’t stopped yet.”
The PASS appropriation is fully included within the SFPP line item, which totals $24.688 million for both programs, within the Department of Agriculture’s budget.
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.
Food prices are estimated to rise between 5 percent in the first half of 2022 and potentially as high as 7 percent by the end of the year, according to reports. Gas prices soared some 50 percent in 2021 and remain high, without much relief in sight. The added costs have a profound impact on the operation of food banks with limited resources.
Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and Feeding Pennsylvania are seeking $24 million for SFPP and $5 million for PASS in the state’s 2022-23 fiscal year budget.
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.