What are Agricultural Partnerships?

In Pennsylvania, there are more than 52,000 farms spanning over 7.3 million acres across the state. With this abundance of resources, there should be no reason anyone should be struggling with hunger, yet more than 2 million Pennsylvanians are struggling with hunger every day, nearly 630,000 of whom are children. That is why agricultural partnerships are of the utmost importance to Feeding Pennsylvania and our member food banks.

The issue of food security requires various partnerships and collaborations across a range of stakeholders to provide increased access to fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, protein, and grains to families who need it most. Thanks to our relationships in the agriculture community, Feeding Pennsylvania’s food banks are able to offer a diverse range of food to our clients while supporting local farmers, processors, and distributors.

Our Director of Agricultural Partnerships, Tom Mainzer, plays a critical role in bridging the gap between Feeding Pennsylvania, our food banks, and Pennsylvania farms. Establishing these relationships between the Commonwealth’s charitable food network and agricultural producers is crucial to help reduce waste, support local farms, and distribute nutritional agricultural products to those in need.

Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) program was designed to support Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry statewide – to reduce waste of surplus product, support local farms, and getting more nutritious food into the hands of Pennsylvanians at risk of hunger.

What is PASS?

PASS provides an efficient mechanism for Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry to donate safe, wholesome food products while being reimbursed for the costs involved in harvesting, processing, packaging, and transporting these foods. Without PASS, these food products would likely otherwise be left to rot in the field, be plowed under, be dumped, or be landfilled.

What kinds of foods are procured through PASS?

PASS funding is used to procure and distribute several dozen different types of products produced right here in Pennsylvania. Some of these products include: apples, asparagus, broccoli, butter, cabbage, cheese, chicken, corn, cucumbers, eggs, green beans, ground beef, lettuce, milk, peaches, pears, potatoes, squash, strawberries, tomatoes, yogurt, and zucchini.

How are PASS products distributed?

Thirteen local, charitable food distributors procure foods from Pennsylvania agricultural producers, packers, and processors, using state funding provided for the PASS program. Working with more than 2,700 local charitable partners – including food pantries, soup kitchens, feeding programs, and shelters – these distributors allocate food to help feed low-income Pennsylvanians in need of food assistance in all 67 counties.

How to Get Involved?

Contract Planting
Through contract planting, you can work with Feeding Pennsylvania and your regional food bank to plan a portion of your production to be donated to the charitable food system. This would include the product and amount to be donated, as well as any associated costs eligible to be covered by PASS.

Surplus Items at Harvest
Have surplus product? Any excess product at the end of the season can also be procured through the PASS program. If the product is in acceptable condition, we can work together to determine if there is a need.

Value-Added Products
Items such as dairy products, meat, eggs, and shelf-stable items using Pennsylvania-sourced ingredients are much-needed items at food banks and their agencies. These types of products are also eligible to utilize PASS funds.

PASS Agriculture Advisory Committee

The PASS Agriculture Advisory Committee includes industry leaders who understand the issues and opportunities of their respective sectors and how they may impact their relationships with food banks of the Commonwealth’s charitable food network. The Advisory Committee helps develop and implement strategies to support strategic planning, promotion, and efficient management of the PASS program.

Members include:

  • Brian Chmiel (Sauder’s Eggs)
  • Brian Campbell (Brian Campbell Farms)
  • Jennifer Reed-Harry (PennAg Industries)
  • Lela Reichart (Sterman Masser Potato Farm)
  • Chuck Turner (Turner Dairy)
  • Steve Johnston (Apple Castle)
  • Darryl Jones (Warrington Farm Meats)
  • Dave Smith (Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association)

Producers interested in participating in PASS should contact Tom Mainzer, Feeding Pennsylvania’s Director of Agricultural Partnerships, at tmainzer@feedingpa.org.