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 2015-2016 at $1 million and steadily increased to $4. 5 million in 2022-2023. We are advocating for continued funding, as well as recommending an increase to $5 million to further increase the full potential of PASS. Read the most recent Economic Impact of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System report here: Economic Impact of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System Report

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

We need your help in advocating for robust nutrition and agricultural programs. The Farm Bill, the largest and most important piece of federal legislation for food and farming, impacts access to nutritious food for the millions of people experiencing food insecurity in Pennsylvania and throughout the country. Work with Feeding Pennsylvania and Feeding America to urge legislators to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill that supports food banks and the people they serve. To learn more about the farm bill and what you can do to advocate, go to feedingamerica.org/take-action/advocate/farm-bill.

Learn more about the 2023 Farm Bill

When people have access to the food and resources they need to thrive, they are able to contribute to the prosperity of their communities and our country as a whole. Unfortunately, hunger exists in every county, parish and borough in the United States.

Through the 2023 Farm Bill, our nation has a viable pathway to help the nearly 34 million people facing hunger in the U.S. put food on the table.

Learn more about the 2023 Farm Bill here.

Tell Congress to pass a strong Farm Bill that supports farmers and people facing hunger

The US charitable food network is advocating for a strong 2023 Farm Bill that:

– Includes robust nutrition and agriculture funding.
– Maintains the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) funding and authority to support U.S.-grown food through food purchases when the market is disrupted.
– Strengthens The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to help food banks keep up with the rising need for food assistance and food costs.
– Supports the USDA in balancing the need to be flexible and act swiftly in making food purchases with the need for stakeholder engagement, particularly in the face of rapidly changing agricultural markets.

Send a message to lawmakers; tell Congress to pass a strong Farm Bill that supports farmers and people facing hunger.


Ask Congress to Permanently Expand SNAP

SNAP is the most effective hunger-relief program in the U.S., providing monthly grocery benefits to households with verylow incomes. These benefits improve the food security, financial security and health of recipients. SNAP benefits also infuse money into local economies.

In Pennsylvania, almost 59% of SNAP participants from October 2021 to November 2022 were in families with children. Almost 46% were in families with members who are older adults or have disabilities. More than 37% were in working families, meaning that the household had earnings.

Send a message to lawmakers; we need to permanently expand SNAP.

Send a message to Congress: Strengthen programs to end rural hunger in the farm bill

Rural communities play a critical part in putting food on tables across the country, yet they are more likely to face hunger. Higher rates of poverty in rural communities make it harder for people to afford food, and there may only be a single grocery store—miles or even hours away.

Congress must strengthen programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in the 2023 Farm Bill to help end hunger in rural communities! This chance only comes once every five years—write to your lawmakers now and tell them to pass the strongest possible farm bill to help end rural hunger!

Write to lawmakers about how TEFAP needs to be strengthened in the 2023 Farm Bill here.

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 John Fetterman

Website: www.fetterman.senate.gov

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

Harrisburg Office
Phone: (717) 782-3951