Governor Releases Blueprint for a Hunger-Free PA
LAMPa applauds the Wolf Administration on the recent unveiling of its food security plan – Setting the Table: A Blueprint for a Hunger-free PA, and urges ELCA hunger leaders to bring their faith to the table to help make that goal a reality.
After meeting with anti-hunger advocates, including LAMPa, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order in September, 2015, 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.
It is estimated that more than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians, or 13.8 percent, experience food insecurity.
“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.
“LAMPa has participated in the process from the outset of this administration and will continue to engage our hunger ministries and advocates to help the Commonwealth meet the goal of being hunger-free,” said executive director Tracey DePasquale. “Our network of hunger leaders can play an important role in implementing this blueprint.”
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, 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.