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$11.4 Million to Help Food Banks with Cold Storage

Funding will address transportation, supply issues related to accessing, delivering perishable food items to families in need

Pennsylvania Food Banks will receive nearly $11.4 million from a portion of the state’s allocation of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for cold storage and transportation resources.

The money will finance the purchase of equipment necessary to ensure that the high volume of fresh foods and perishable food items now available can be accessed more readily, stored properly, and delivered safely to families in need in all 67 counties.

Administration officials and state legislators joined charitable food organization representatives and community leaders to announce the funding today during three events held simultaneously in Allegheny, Berks, and Chester counties.

“The stronger our infrastructure network is, the more effective the food distribution network is, and that means more individuals and families having access to healthy, nutritious meals,” Hunger-Free Pennsylvania Executive Director Sheila Christopher said at the Allegheny County event.

“The charitable food network is beyond grateful for this investment in our food banks and our partner agencies like Mary’s Shelter to increase our capacity to store and transport fresh and frozen food. We are grateful to the Wolf administration and Democratic leadership for recognizing this critical need that will support so many food-insecure Pennsylvanians,” Feeding Pennsylvania Chief Executive Officer Jane Clements said in Berks County.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a dramatic increase in demands on Pennsylvania’s emergency food assistance network, one that has not subsided. Even with this grant, the challenges food banks face operationally to meet the high demand remain great.

Charitable food providers have made unprecedented efforts to distribute necessary food to impacted populations, but the critical shortage of storage and transportation resources has created challenges that have only been compounded by major alterations to food supply chains.

Senator Kearney, 26th Senatorial District, announcing the ARPA funds at Historic Sugartown in Chester County. 

Right now, an unprecedented quantity of U.S.-grown and -produced perishable food items such as dairy, fluid milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, and meats is available because of the COVID-19
emergency. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to Families Food Box-Commodity Food Assistance Program (CFAP) has already provided more than 23 million pounds of fresh product to Pennsylvania food banks since mid-May.

But USDA does not provide any storage or distribution funding to help the food banks administer CFAP. Due to the sheer volume of perishable foods being received, the rental of external cold storage facilities has resulted in additional monthly costs averaging more than $40,000 among some food banks, for example. If these funds had not been needed for cold storage, they could have been used for the purchase of additional shelf-stable products or to meet other outstanding expenses due to the pandemic.

With a portion of the state’s allocation of ARPA funds, the network of food banks will be able to purchase things such as drive-in coolers and freezers, one- and two-door commercial coolers and freezers, sea box containers, and several vehicles.

The majority of materials will go to the food banks’ community partners, including food pantries, food cupboards, soup kitchens, and member agencies.

The $11.39 million will be divided among 18 food banks:
• Member Alliance for Nonprofit Resources – $276,000
• Bucks County Opportunity Council – $55,025
• Central Pennsylvania Food Bank – $2,585,000
• Chester County Food Bank – $621,005
• Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County – $137,000
• Fayette County Community Action Agency – $130,000
• Food For Families (Cambria County) – $279,000
• Food Helpers (Washington County) – $346,000
• Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank – $1,241,740
• Helping Harvest (Berks & Schuylkill Counties) – $1,077,000
• Indiana County Community Action Program – $265,000
• Philabundance – $156,000
• Share Food Program (Philadelphia) – $2,604,000
• Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley & NE PA – $60,900
• Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest PA – $748,675
• Weinberg NE PA Regional Food Bank – $580,000
• Westmoreland County Food Bank – $80,000
• York County Food Bank – $150,000

The three news conferences took place with administration officials and local lawmakers at North Hills Community Outreach in Allison Park, Allegheny County; Mary’s Shelter in Reading, Berks County; and Historic Sugartown in Malvern, Chester County.

The state’s network of food banks serves approximately 3,000 charitable food assistance providers throughout the commonwealth.