For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. – Matthew 25:35
– See more at: http://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Relief-and-Development/ELCA-World-Hunger/Our-Approach#sthash.lZiHFEq1.dpuf

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. – Matthew 25:35

Our ELCA Social Statement Economic Life: Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, states that: “Based on this vantage point of faith, ‘sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all’ is a benchmark for affirming, opposing, and seeking changes in economic life. Because of sin we fall short of these obligations in this world, but we live in light of God’s promised future that ultimately there will be no hunger and injustice. This promise makes us restless with less than what God intends for the world.”

Food Insecurity in Pennsylvania – Statistics

Findings published in 2022 by Feeding America show a startling depiction of hunger in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Across the state, 1,353,730 people are facing hunger, and of them 383,520 are children.  That’s 1 in 9 people, and 1 in 7 children.  The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture painted a similarly bleak portrait of hunger, citing from Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap” report that during the 2020 year of the Covid-19 pandemic the number of people facing food insecurity in Pennsylvania grew from 1.35 million to 1.77 million.  In 2021 that number was projected to drop to 1.54 million, thanks to policies implemented at the local, state, and federal levels of government.

What is it that has made hunger such a prevalent problem in Pennsylvania, impacting 12% of the adult population and 16.8% of the child population?  The commonwealth cities these primary reasons:

  • Covid-19 pandemic
  • Lack of awareness of existing resources
  • Difficulty finding resource information
  • Existing benefit shortcomings
  • Job loss
  • Isolation
  • Lack of access to transportation
  • Supply chain challenges
  • Socioeconomic status

To address this requires government investment into hunger programs.  The total monetary need to feed all those facing food insecurity in Pennsylvania is $733,806,000 per annum, as the average cost of a meal is $3.17.  A major way in which these meals are provides is via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  33.9% of households receiving SNAP have children, so this program contributes to addressing childhood food insecurity.  SNAP also has economic benefits.  The $2,513,696,584 distributed through SNAP generated $4,273,284,193 in economic activity.  That’s $1.70 in economic activity for every SNAP dollar spent.

Support Existing Programs

Charitable food networks began to see a levelling in demand from pandemic highs at the end of 2021.  But now, with increasing inflation and uncertainty about the future, many are still turning to food banks for assistance.  And while the outpouring of financial support from our communities has been tremendous, programs like the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) help fill in the gaps with healthy, locally grown products.  This supports Pennsylvania farmers and businesses as well as the Pennsylvania charitable food system.

Join LAMPa in advocating for SFPP to be funded at $24 million and PASS at $5 million in this budget cycle.

Resources

PASS Infographic 20-21 Stats with Cares

PASS Fact Sheet 3.23.2022

The Economic Impact of PASS poster

The Economic Impact of PASS report

PASS Small Farmer Fact Sheet 11.10.2020

Read the Briefing Paper on Hunger in Pennsylvania prepared by LAMPa and other hunger organizations for the Governor Wolf Transition Team in 2015.

Learn more about HUNGER-FREE PENNSYLVANIA -The state’s single largest nonprofit provider of food resources and meals to older Pennsylvanians and hungry families, working in partnership with state and federal governments and nonprofit organizations.

Find out about the work of Hunger Free Lancaster County on their website and in recent news articles.

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) Summer Nutrition Status Report measures the reach of the Summer Nutrition Programs in July 2018, nationally and in each state.  Click here to access the Pennsylvania Summer Food Service Program report.