Urge State Lawmakers to Support PA’s Major Anti-Hunger Programs
As the state budget process continues, please contact your state legislators and ask them to adequately support the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS). These programs remain two of the commonwealth’s most important tools in the fight against hunger and a lifeline for food banks across Pennsylvania. Many of our Lutheran food pantries rely on these programs to supplement their hunger ministries.
In Pennsylvania, more than one in eight residents are food insecure. More than one in six children in the Commonwealth are food insecure. The rate of food insecurity for Pennsylvania children is higher – nearly 17% – than the overall rate of food insecurity – 12.5% – in PA.
SFPP funding enables Pennsylvania’s private charitable food distribution network to provide nutritionally balanced food packages to low-income families, children, seniors, and others hungry and threatened by hunger. PASS funding provides the opportunity for Pennsylvania’s farmers and food producers to partner with the charitable food providers to the benefit of both our most vulnerable citizens and Pennsylvania agriculture. A relatively modest investment of Commonwealth resources in these programs makes a significant difference in the lives of Pennsylvanians challenged by hunger.
ELCA Hunger Ministries are found throughout Pennsylvania in all seven synods. Hunger leaders were recently asked to comment on the ministries they provide and the importance of SFPP and PASS to their programs.
“As a food pantry we would not be able to provide fresh or non processed food items to those in need without the State Purchase Food Program or the PA Ag Surplus System. Having fresh foods helps us expose folks to a wider variety of healthy foods, and as we know healthy eating is a building block for the rest of an abundant life. Children learn better with proper nutrition and the elderly and other health vulnerable folks stay healthier when they are able to “eat clean” rather then over processed foods.”
Deacon Amy Beth Santoriello, SWPA
“The Lazarus Gate Food Pantry relies on the State Food Purchase Program when we buy food through the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. We try to provide 6-8 days of meals for 50-60 families each month. We rely on GPCFB to provide us food at a discounted rate. We are always trying to get the most for our money. The PA Ag Surplus System provides us food from the local farmers. This helps us and the farmers. ”
Susan Barclay, Lazarus Gate, Rockwood PA, Allegheny Synod
“Serving 70 households every month at our congregation’s food bank requires partners. Central PA food bank and CAP Lancaster are our primary food partners in this important work. We want to provide high quality and, when available, fresh food to our clients. Without annual funding from SFPP we would not be able to continue to serve the food insecure families around us and hunger would increase. Without PASS we would not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables for our clients. And without a doubt, our clients need and appreciate access to fresh food most of all.
Please support SFPP and help us in the fight to end hunger in PA now. ”
Pastor Matt Lenahan, LSS Synod
“So often the poor don’t feel they can afford to eat well. And farmers hate to see their labor go to waste. The State Food Purchase Program and the PASS helps both these groups. Here in Northwest PA we are seeing more and more need for those in our community with mental health issues, families with young children, foster children and our vets. These programs provide assistance to so many in our communities. It is important to keep them funded. To keep more of our community healthy. ”
The Rev. Deborah Jacobson, NWPA Synod
“Many Lutheran congregations are on the frontlines of the war on poverty in their communities. Providing space, volunteers, and resources to care for the poor fulfills the biblical mandate to love your neighbor. Families, children and senior adults all receive food through the PA. Agricultural Surplus System and the State Food Purchase Program. In Berks County, our local Food Bank just re-branded itself as “Helping Harvest” as more than half of its’ food distributed is now healthy, fresh produce and dairy products. My congregation is in its’ 5th year of growing several tons of vegetables to be distributed directly to 7 food pantry sites in our community.”
Pastor Bruce Osterhout, Zion’s Lutheran Church, Shoemakersville PA, NEPA Synod
“The New Love Center Food Pantry serving western Lycoming and eastern Clinton Counties in Northcentral Pennsylvania has seen a new trend since December that has not occurred in previous years. Instead of a peak in December-January and a decline in the number of clients in the summer months, we are seeing a constant 400+ families coming every month for food. The majority of those clients are seniors. I’m not sure why we are seeing an increasing number of seniors who are coming for food but I suspect that part of it is that we are in an area of the commonwealth that is struggling economically.
The state food purchase program and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System are critically important to our seniors. These are salt of the earth people who worked hard all their lives but never made big wages nor do they have pensions. The box of food we give, plus milk, eggs, vegetables, and fruits are critical to a healthy diet. This past year we were able to give half gallons of milk instead of a quart. The free chicken, pork, fish, and other food items from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture were received with joy by our clients who can’t afford extras when you only receive $622/month on Social Security.
Whenever I can get cabbage, potatoes, apples, oranges, our clients are overjoyed. A half gallon of milk may not seem like much — but to a senior who may use it for baking, drinking, and cereal, it is a precious commodity.
I ask that you please continue funding for the State Food Purchase program and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System so no one goes hungry.”
The Rev. Dr. Kerry Aucker , Administrator, The New Love Center Food Pantry , USS Synod
Click here to take action today by contacting your state lawmakers to ensure adequate funding in the state budget for SFPP and PASS, two programs that help Pennsylvanians meet the basic need for food for all of our neighbors. Thank you for your support.