First Lady Frances Wolf, Secretary Teresa Miller Join Local Food Service Providers to Unveil New Report on Hunger in York County
June 21, 2019
York, PA – First Lady Frances Wolf and Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today joined the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to highlight the food bank’s new report on hunger in York County, the importance of charitable food organizations, and the effects of food insecurity on health.
“It is a sad reality that too many Pennsylvanians face the threat of hunger every day,” First Lady Frances Wolf said. “There is no greater responsibility than ensuring the health and well-being of our citizens, yet this mission cannot be achieved by government alone. We must continue to take an active, collaborative approach to ensure all Pennsylvanians have adequate access to fresh, nutrient-dense foods. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and its partners work tirelessly to meet this need in the communities they serve, and I am grateful for their partnership and work to combat food insecurity across Pennsylvania.”
More than 1.5 million Pennsylvanians face food insecurity every day. Chronic hunger and food insecurity can have profound impacts on a person’s health and well-being. Children who are food insecure are more likely to have poor academic outcomes and adults who do not have enough to eat have worse physical and behavioral health outcomes and higher medical spending.
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s report is an evaluation of food security and the charitable food network in York County. It found that more than 55,000 residents of York County are food insecure, and 35 percent of food needs are currently unmet. The report’s findings and recommendations outline opportunities to help close this gap and provide a foundation for continuing to address food security around the commonwealth.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program and helps more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians avoid food insecurity. Children, people with disabilities, and elderly Pennsylvanians are some of the program’s biggest beneficiaries. SNAP expands recipients’ purchasing power to buy food from their local grocery stores and farmers markets. Participation in SNAP allows Pennsylvanians to buy nutritious food that supports children’s learning abilities, improves health outcomes, lowers health care costs, and helps working families keep food on the table.
Charitable food organizations make significant contributions to their communities by supporting individuals facing food insecurity and allowing them to access additional resources so people do not go hungry. Their work to supplement food assistance programs helps individuals who are food insecure make ends meet so they are less likely to choose between paying for food or going without basic needs like housing, medical care, clothing, utilities, and other essentials.
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.
This positive economic impact is felt in positive economic climates. In 2017, $2.7 billion dollars in SNAP benefits were redeemed at Pennsylvania grocery stores and other authorized retailers. Those dollars support farmers and jobs across Pennsylvania.
In September 2016, Setting the Table: Blueprint for a Hunger-Free PA was developed to address hunger in PA as a response to Governor Wolf’s executive order establishing the Governor’s Food Security Partnership. The partnership includes the departments of Aging, Agriculture, Community and Economic Development, Education, Health, and Human Services.
Since the release of the blueprint in 2016, the Wolf Administration has completed key steps in eliminating food insecurity by:
• Growing food security programs in the Medicaid system;
• Increasing knowledge of summer feeding programs by mailing summer feeding postcards to all SNAP recipient households;
• Reducing stigma associated with SNAP by rebranding SNAP for seniors’ materials;
• Broadening current programs across various departments to encourage food security components;
• Educating children, families and seniors on the necessary nutrition needed for a healthy life;
• Shorting the Elderly/Disabled Simplified Application Project (ESAP) application for seniors from 24 pages to 2 pages, which has benefited more than 390,000 people; and
• Being a national leader in SNAP application timeliness and reducing SNAP error rates.
“To truly end hunger in Pennsylvania, it will take a commitment from the private, public, and non-profit sectors of government to ensure the availability of a holistic array of interventions and supports to lift low-income families out of poverty and toward better health outcomes,” Secretary Miller said. “The findings in this report show the community’s commitment to providing resources for individuals to lead an active, healthy life, but shows us that there are still opportunities to do more to help all Pennsylvanians have enough to eat and avoid chronic hunger.”
Pennsylvanians who may qualify but do not currently receive the services can apply online through our COMPASS application at dhs.pa.gov, on a smartphone with the myCOMPASS PA app, or in-person at your local County Assistance Office.
Find out more information regarding the Blueprint for a Hunger-Free Pennsylvania.
For more information and resources to fight hunger throughout the commonwealth, visit www.dhs.pa.gov/ending-hunger.