Pennsylvania’s new budget includes more money for anti-hunger programs

Written by on July 2, 2021

Pennsylvania’s new budget includes more money for anti-hunger programs

By Gabriela Martínez, WITF

July 5, 2021

Volunteers from Highmark sort apples on the “Green Machine” at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Photo | Rachel McDevitt / WITF

COVID-19 plunged thousands of Pennsylvanians into food insecurity. The state’s new budget sends more money to anti-hunger programs in an effort to tackle that growing need.

The State Food Purchase Program will receive more than $20 million, $2 million more than in past years, and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System is getting a $1-million increase.

The programs supply charitable food distributors across the state.

Sheila Christopher, executive director for Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, gathers data from Pennsylvania food banks. She says between June 2020 and June 2021, there has been a 24-percent increase in the number of people requesting food assistance.

“But the amount of food we had to actually give them had decreased by 44% percent. It was critical that the state step up and provide the resources to purchase more food items,” Christopher says. 

Jane Clements is the executive director of Feeding Pennsylvania.

“While people are returning to employment, they’re still under- employed, and maybe not receiving the same salary they were prior. So we’re still seeing that the increase in need is pretty level and we really feel like we may see that, as we continue throughout the next year or so,” she says. 

A recent survey from the United Way of Pennsylvania shows that about 1 in 4 households are one emergency away from a financial crisis, including food insecurity.

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