Feeding Pennsylvania Policy Priorities

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.

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.

Annual State Appropriations

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.

Advocacy Updates – Winter 2020

We are asking the network to take the following actions over the coming weeks in support of our ​​policy priorities. We will be updating this page with new resources to support you as you take action.

Help our Food Insecure PA Neighbors

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.

Join us in advocating for an increase in SFPP & PASS! We just need a few pieces of information to connect you with your representatives. TAKE ACTION!

COVID-19 Recovery Update

In the coming days, President Biden is expected to outline initial priorities for the second half of his infrastructure package, which will focus on human infrastructure investments. Congress has yet to introduce infrastructure or COVID-19 recovery legislation related to President Biden’s priorities, but we will believe this could provide a critical opportunity for lawmakers to include additional nutrition investments for the duration of the pandemic and economic recovery. It will be important for our network to share with lawmakers the increase in demand for food assistance we continue to see, and the urgency of continued investments in federal nutrition programs to support people facing huger. Please use our Feeding America COVID-19 Recovery One Pager to share our policy priorities with your Members of Congress.

USDA Ends Food Box Program, Implements Funding from COVID-19 Relief Legislation

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday that the Farmers to Families Food Box Program will end next month, and that USDA will shift its focus to other food distribution programs, including TEFAP. Few details are known yet about the timing of additional funding, but you can learn more about the issue by accessing our USDA Food Purchases Update Webinar recording and slides here.

TEFAP Funding

Please ask your senators and House members to submit requests to the Appropriations Committees to provide $100 million for TEFAP Storage & Distribution and $15 million for TEFAP Infrastructure Grants. Most congressional offices use a form that can typically be found on their websites, and we have developed a template form that you may find helpful. It is important to contact your House Members prior to the request deadline of April 29 (Senate deadline is yet to be announced).

Make Your Voice Heard

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.

Locate Your Legislators

Who is My Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives?
Who Are My Pennsylvania State Legislators?

Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.

Website: www.casey.senate.gov

Washington D.C. Office
Phone: (202) 224-6324
Toll Free: (866) 802-2833
Fax: (202) 228-0604

Harrisburg Office
Phone: (717) 231-7540
Toll Free: (866) 461-9159
Fax: (717) 231-7542

Senator Patrick J. Toomey

Website: www.toomey.senate.gov

Washington D.C. Office
Phone: (202) 224-4254
Fax: (202) 228-0284

Harrisburg Office
Phone: (717) 782-3951
Fax: (717) 782-4920