First Lady Frances Wolf and Governor’s Food Security Partnership Highlight Importance of Charitable Food Organizations
September 03, 2019
Harrisburg, PA – First Lady Frances Wolf and top officials from each of the six state agencies from the Governor’s Food Security Partnership today joined Feeding Pennsylvania and the Central Pennsylvania Food bank to highlight the importance of charitable food organizations and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation’s most important anti-hunger program, during Hunger Action Month. The Governor’s Food Security Partnership includes the departments of Aging, Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Education, Health, and Human Services.
“Tom and I are so proud of the progress the Food Security Partnership has made towards eradicating hunger – we have taken an active approach to ensuring all Pennsylvanians have access to nutritious food by encouraging public, private and non-profit partners to share best practices and support existing programs,” said First Lady Frances Wolf. “But, as we all know, there is still more work to be done. There are still far too many Pennsylvanians – over two million – who are unsure of where they will find their next meal. That is why it is so important to bring awareness to the issue of food insecurity — not only during Hunger Action Month, but all year long.”
In Pennsylvania, approximately 1.53 million Pennsylvanians experience chronic hunger. About 437,000 low-income children are experiencing food insecurity. Food insecurity means not having access to reliable and nutritious meals. Since hunger and health are deeply connected, the effects of inadequate food are profound. Those effects include increased risks for chronic diseases, higher chances of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased healthcare costs.
“More than one million people around Pennsylvania do not know where they will get their next meal,” said Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller. “For these people, food insecurity is their daily reality. However, programs like SNAP and charitable food networks help working adults, people with disabilities, older adults, and children access food and expand their purchasing power so they do not have to choose between paying for a doctor’s appointment or replacing an old pair of shoes and being able to eat dinner.”
On average, children whose families utilize SNAP are healthier than kids whose families qualify for SNAP but are not enrolled in the program. These kids go on to have higher graduation rates, increased adult earnings, and improved health outcomes in their adult life. Older adults who are enrolled in SNAP are healthier, hospitalized less and are less likely to go to a nursing home.
In addition to SNAP helping curve healthcare costs, SNAP helps local economies. In May 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a study on the influence of SNAP redemptions on the economy and county-level employment in the time leading up to, during, and after the Great Recession. This study found that SNAP redemptions could have a greater economic stimulus impact than many other forms of government spending per dollar spent, especially during a recession, because they are paid directly to low-income individuals. For instance, the grocery subsidies deliver food directly to tables along with a financial return into rural supermarkets and small businesses in those communities.
There are over 10,000 authorized retailers that participate in SNAP across Pennsylvania. These retailers redeemed about $2.6 billion in SNAP benefits in 2018 according to the United States Department of Agriculture. SNAP also provides support for programs like SNAP 50/50, where non-profit organizations leverage their funding with matched funds from the federal government to provide career-specific skills training for people receiving SNAP benefits.
In 2016, the Governor’s Food Security Partnership released Setting the Table: A Blueprint for a Hunger-Free PA. The Blueprint was developed through robust stakeholder engagement. With the Hunger Blueprint as a guide, the Governor’s Food Security Partnerships and charitable food partners have made significant impacts in our communities in the past three years. The role of charitable food organizations played an essential role in improving access to local food resources and increasing awareness of food insecurity.
Feeding Pennsylvania is a partnership formed among eight of Pennsylvania’s Feeding America member food banks. Through this partnership, they serve nearly two million low-income individuals annually by distributing more than 160 million pounds of food across Pennsylvania. The mission of Feeding Pennsylvania is to assist members in securing food and other resources for themselves and for people in need and to provide a collective voice on the issues of hunger and food access.
“There are 1.53 million Pennsylvanians facing hunger and nearly half a million of them are children,” said Jane Clements-Smith, executive director of Feeding Pennsylvania. On behalf of the entire charitable food network, we would like to thank Governor and First Lady Wolf for their commitment to addressing hunger. Feeding Pennsylvania is proud of have been at the table since the conception of the Governor’s Food Security Partnership, and we continue to work closely with the administration to ensure that every Pennsylvanian has access to nutritious food.”
Charitable food networks around the commonwealth do important work every day to help Pennsylvanians experiencing hunger, but they cannot end food insecurity alone. The combination of charity and government assistance programs are necessary to help bridge the meal gap.
The Wolf Administration will be visiting local charitable food organizations across the commonwealth during Hunger Action Month to highlight local resources and initiatives as well as learning from volunteers and staff and talking to people who are experiencing hunger. The partnerships between the Wolf Administration and local food networks work together to maintain a critical safety net.
For more information on the Governor’s Food Security Partnership and food assistance programs, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.