HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Today The Departments of Agriculture and Human Services were joined by Minority Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee Senator Judy Schwank and charitable food organizations at the Capitol Hunger Garden to help raise awareness of programs addressing food insecurity in Pennsylvania during Hunger Action Month.

“As we kick off Hunger Action Month, we are reminded of the role each of us – government agencies, policymakers, charitable food organizations, farmers, volunteers – can play to bring food to the table for our neighbors,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “We cannot have a charitable food system without a food system that is charitable. I can’t thank our farmers and producers, Governor Tom Wolf and our partners in the General Assembly, enough for their dedication to a mission we can all support: eliminating hunger in Pennsylvania.”

Since Governor Wolf took office in 2015, he has increased funding for programs that address hunger and food access by more than $80 million.

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) has distributed more than 23 million pounds of surplus food form farms to Pennsylvanians in need, while also generating more than $40 million in economic output. More than 80 different Pennsylvania products have been sourced from 189 farmers, processors, and growers located in 50 counties across the commonwealth.

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“The beginning of Hunger Action Month should remind us all of just how prevalent food insecurity is in Pennsylvania. This issue is capable of impacting seniors, college students, young families, and everyone in between,” said Sen. Schwank. “It’s crucial that the legislature continues to partner with and support the state agencies tasked with administering food programs as well as the food banks that work tirelessly to feed people in need each day.”

More information and resources can be found here.

Unfortunately for two million Pennsylvanians, going to bed hungry is a reality.

Gov. Wolf will be working to improve food security in Pennsylvania by doing the following:

  • Investing in cold storage infrastructure for food banks to reduce food waste and increase capacity
  • Funding the PASS and increasing its funding annually thereafter, providing farmers the opportunity to put their excess product in the hands of families in need
  • Rebranding the Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program to raise awareness , removing income requirements, and offering delivery through Doordash
  • Improving access to fresh food in areas that don’t have access in the commonwealth through the Fresh Food Financing Initiative and the PA Farm Bill urban Agriculture Infrastructure Program
  • Continually advocating for school children so they can have consistent access to free and nutritious meals
  • Raising income eligibility for Pennsylvanians receiving support from Pennsylvania’s network of food banks and pantries from 150% to 185% to meet the needs of more people
  • Increasing the access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by expanding eligibility to include community college students, launching SNAP online ordering, streamlining the SNAP application for seniors and people with disabilities, and increasing SNAP 50/50 programs to 28 across the state