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.

Prevent the Commodity “Cliff” in 2021

USDA must act this fall to make new food purchases to prevent food banks from seeing a severe drop in food at the same time we are seeing such increased demand. We will need to ask congressional delegations to contact USDA and generate media to ensure they understand how important these purchases are.

  • Our ask: USDA needs to use the funds they have available to increase commodity purchases to help us meet our increased demand.
  • Key times of activation: ​October – December 2020.
Boost SNAP Benefits

We cannot give Congress or the Administration a reason to say that a SNAP increase is no longer critical for the people we serve or our network. Our push is working, and we are seeing it in statements and interviews from leadership.

  • Our ask: Increase the SNAP maximum benefit by 15 percent in the next stimulus bill.
Help military families facing food insecurity

As many as 90,000 active duty service members struggle to provide food for their families, in part because their monthly housing allowance makes them ineligible for SNAP. We are advocating for the creation of a Military Families Basic Needs Allowance to support service members whose income is below 130 percent of the federal poverty level in legislation lawmakers are working to enact before the end of the year.

  • Our ask: Tell your Members of Congress to communicate their support for the Military Families Basic Needs Allowance to the key lawmakers who will decide whether it is included in the National Defense Authorization Act.
  • How you can help: Tell your Members of Congress how important it is to ensure that service members do not have to worry about whether they can feed their families.
USDA Extends Child Nutrition Waivers through June 30, 2021

On Friday, October 9, USDA finally announced the extension of child nutrition waivers for the full school year, through June 30, 2021. These flexibilities continue to be critical for schools, community providers, and all operators to plan with certainty during an otherwise chaotic time. But more than anything, their extension will help ensure kids have the food they need this school year. See USDA’s press release here, as well as a statement from Feeding America.

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