How lucky we are at the CC Food Bank to have an amazing group of volunteers and staff! Cheryl Fluharty is one such example who shared with us years of smiles and a passion for our mission. Cheryl began volunteering with the Food Bank nearly eight years ago at our Downingtown location. When we moved to our current location in Exton, Cheryl, along with group of regular volunteers, didn’t skip a beat and continued volunteering. In October 2014, Cheryl transitioned from volunteer to part-time Production Cook to prepare meals for our expanding culinary program and partnership with Meals on Wheels. Her culinary skills and passion for food helped to increase client participation. She was also an integral part of creating Simple Suppers which enables us to serve more people in the community. Simply said, Cheryl cooked with love.
Due to the growth at the CC Food Bank, including the kitchen, the Production Cook now requires full time staff. To that end, we would like to welcome Levi Villagomez. A recent graduate of our FRESHstart Kitchen workforce development program, we are excited to welcome Levi to the team. If you’re volunteering with us or dropping off a food drive, please give Levi a welcoming Hello. Thank you Cheryl for sharing your time and talent with the Chester County Food Bank!
Take action today! Contact your state and local elected officials and let them know that you support the State Food Purchase Program.
• • •
July 1st marks the beginning of Pennsylvania’s fiscal year, and in most years, the beginning of a new state budget. Part of the budget that we pay most attention to at Chester County Food Bank belongs to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture – a line item called ‘State Food Purchase,’ which appropriates funds to the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS).
Pennsylvanians are fortunate to live in one of a few states that provide a state food program. State food programs extend additional support to eligible households struggling with food insecurity. This is a supplement to other federal nutrition assistance programs like The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Throughout the year, CCFB engages with Pennsylvania legislators and our advocate network to support a funding increase to the State Food Purchase budget. Of the total allocation, CCFB receives a portion based upon county unemployment rates and participation in SNAP and the Medical Assistance program.
In fiscal year 2018, Chester County was awarded a share of $325,371 in State Food Purchase funds. Those funds provided nutrition assistance to more than 7,000 households and an additional 70,000 meals at soup kitchens and hot meal sites throughout Chester County.
Along with a network of Food Banks and charitable organizations under the name Hunger Free PA, we asked the state for a combined allocation of $24 million to feed Pennsylvanians in need; $21 million to SFPP and $3 million to PASS. In total, our request would represent 0.07% of the state’s $34 billion budget*. The Pennsylvania state legislature was not swayed by our efforts and did not allocate additional funds in the new State Food Purchase budget.
Over the last 10 years, the average annual increase in funding for the State Food Purchase Program was 0.9%. Meanwhile, over the same 10-year period, the average annual increase in food cost was 1.2%. Since 2014 the average annual increase in food distributed by the Chester County Food Bank is close to 5%. At this rate, the distribution and cost of food for food banks will outpace the state’s food assistance budget in a few years. This will place the burden on us to find additional resources to continue serving our communities with the same quality of healthy food we all deserve.
Take action today!
Contact your state and local elected officials and let them know that you support the State Food Purchase Program.
* Correction: our request would represent .07% of the state’s budget, not .06%.
Photos: Shutterstock, Dish Works