Wolf Administration Addressing Food Security in the Commonwealth

September 21, 2016

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today unveiled its food security plan – Setting the Table: A Blueprint for a Hunger-free PA, and announced the receipt of a federal grant aimed at addressing hunger in young children up to age 5.

On September 29, 2015, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order establishing the Governor’s Food Security Partnership (Partnership). The Partnership is comprised of the secretaries of the departments of Aging, Agriculture, Community and Economic

Development, Education, Health, and Human Services. It is responsible for promoting coordination, communication, and joint planning between government programs and entities in the private sector in providing nutrition and food assistance to Pennsylvanians.

“Over the last year, the Partnership has worked with public, charitable, and private leaders in food security to develop the goals and initiatives needed to create a hunger-free Pennsylvania,” said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. “For many Pennsylvanians, food insecurity is a daily part of life. It is estimated that more than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians, or 13.8 percent, experience food insecurity – we believe that the goals established in the blueprint will change that.”

Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas, Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne, and Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding were joined by advocates and stakeholders at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg today to kick off the plan.

“The Department of Agriculture is committed to connecting low-income Pennsylvanians in need of food assistance with healthy, nutritious products produced right here in the commonwealth by our more than 59,000 farm families,” said Secretary Redding. “That includes connecting them to Pennsylvania products through innovative programs like the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System, Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, and Farm-to-School programs.”

“The Hunger Blueprint demonstrates the Wolf Administration’s commitment to help Pennsylvanian’s eat better and stay healthy,” said Secretary Osborne. “Our capacity to communicate and collaborate at the state and local level is not only evidence of a government that works, it ensures that by working together every Pennsylvanian, including our seniors, has the food they need to live and age well.”

The plan lays out the Administration’s goals of providing all Pennsylvanians with access to healthy, nutritious food, which will improve their well-being, health, and independence. Pennsylvania will leverage the strength of its community and business partners; federal, state, and local resources; and innovations in the charitable food network to set the table for a hunger-free Pennsylvania. The Blueprint’s goals by 2020 are:

  • Every county and/or region in Pennsylvania will have a local food alliance to combat hunger in their local communities.
  • The SNAP participation rate will increase from 90 percent to 98 percent or higher.
  • The number of children benefiting from free and reduced price meals during the school year (linked to nutrition programs in summer) will increase from 20 percent to 30 percent.
  • Sixty percent of students benefiting from free and reduced priced school meals will participate in school breakfast. This is an increase from 47 percent in 2014-15.
  • The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program redemption rate will increase from 308,000 to 340,000 checks annually.
  • Double SNAP Bucks will be available at all highly accessible, high-need farmers’ markets, and additional SNAP recipients will have access to SNAP employment and training and SNAP education.
  • Pennsylvanians will have streamlined access to food security information and benefits.
  • The average number of people participating in WIC programs will increase from over 245,000 to 260,000.
  • Pennsylvania will improve access to healthy, nutritious food.

“With hunger, no amount is an acceptable amount,” said Secretary of Health Karen Murphy. “Although Pennsylvania is a world leader in agricultural production, 1.7 million Pennsylvanians struggle to secure enough food to feed themselves and their families. The department is proud to participate in the Blueprint for a Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, which lays out multiple initiatives that will help drive us closer to the goal of full nutrition security in the commonwealth by 2020.”

Additionally, earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service awarded $500,000 to Pennsylvania to help improve retention of children in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). These funds will enable the Pennsylvania Department of Health to better fulfill its crucial role in ensuring young children up to age five have a foundation for nutritional success.

For more than 40 years, WIC has provided nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to other health and social services. The program serves low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding and postpartum mothers, infants, and young children up to the age of five who are found to be nutritionally at risk.

For more information about the hunger plan, visit www.dhs.pa.gov/ending-hunger. For more information on the WIC program, visit www.health.pa.gov.

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