GUEST BLOG: Joining Forces to Fight Hunger in Pennsylvania

By: Jane Clements-Smith, Feeding Pennsylvania Executive Director

May 27, 2016

This week we were honored to join First Lady Frances Wolf and spouses of Pennsylvania legislators at the Governor’s Residence to discuss a very personal issue that touches millions every day: hunger in Pennsylvania. Attendees donated kid-friendly food to the backpack program at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, a program that gives children in need backpacks of easy-to-make food to sustain them through the weekend.

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We were overwhelmed by the generosity of the spouses who attended, bringing bags and bags of food for the kids. There were even some people who could not attend but sent a donation of food anyway! All in all, 150 pounds of food went to the food bank, enough to fill 15-20 backpacks.

There are a lot of statistics that surround issues like hunger. Feeding Pennsylvania’s food banks distribute 138 million pounds of food to help feed the 1.76 million people in the Commonwealth that are food insecure, meaning that they do not have reliable access to three nutritious meals each day. One in seven Pennsylvanians does not have enough to eat; for children, the number is one in five. That means that 521,000 kids are hungry – enough to fill Beaver Stadium five times.

With all of these numbers, it’s easy to get lost in the statistics, but hunger has a face, too. As I shared at the reception, I’ve had friends and family members fall on hard times, finding themselves in line at a food pantry. Expenses continue to rise and sometimes it’s the trip to the grocery store that takes the hit. Jennifer Powell, the director of development at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, also shared the story of her experience with hunger and having to go to the food pantry for help. She sees herself when she watches people line up for food assistance, and that’s why she has dedicated her life to food banking.

Feeding Pennsylvania provides a strong collective voice for hunger relief in Pennsylvania through a variety of means, working with our eight member food banks and their network of over 2,600 agencies across the state. We are very thankful for the leadership of Governor and First Lady Wolf in the fight against hunger. They under how serious this issue is, and are personally invested in addressing it – contributing to food charities throughout the commonwealth and volunteering their time at local soup kitchens. And, we are thrilled to now find new allies through the First Lady and the spouses of our legislators.

We work with a variety of partners in private industry, government and agriculture, but we could not do what we do without the support of those who donate to our food banks, volunteer, and work to fight hunger in their own communities. Our goal is to ensure that no Pennsylvanian goes hungry, and together I know we can make that goal a reality.

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