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Addressing Food Security in PA: Budget Requests for a Nourished Commonwealth

State lawmakers in Harrisburg are currently drafting and debating the 2024/2025 budget, which is due June 30th. As the Pennsylvania State Budget takes shape, various stakeholders are advocating for funding allocations to address pressing issues within the state. Among these concerns, ensuring food security stands out as a critical priority, particularly due to the rising cost of housing and inflation. The Food Security Network in Pennsylvania has put forth a series of budget requests to bolster efforts to combat hunger and promote nutritional well-being across the Commonwealth.

A Breakdown of the Budget Requests from the Food Security Network
  1. Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) $7,500,000:
    PASS plays a vital role in minimizing food waste and addressing food insecurity by facilitating the donation of surplus agricultural products. This funding would support the operational costs involved in harvesting, processing, packaging, and transporting food items that would otherwise go to waste. By harnessing surplus resources, PASS not only helps farmers but also ensures that nutritious food reaches those in need, contributing to a more sustainable and equitable food system.
  2. Increase Minimum SNAP Benefit for Seniors and People with Disabilities: $17,000,000:
    Seniors and individuals with disabilities often face unique challenges in accessing adequate nutrition. By increasing the minimum Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit, we can enhance food security and promote better health outcomes among these vulnerable populations. This investment would provide essential support, helping seniors and individuals with disabilities afford nutritious food and lead healthier lives.
  3. State Food Purchase Program (SFPP): $23,000,000
    The demand for food assistance remains high, with food banks struggling to meet the needs of their communities amidst rising costs and logistical challenges. The SFPP plays a crucial role in addressing this demand by providing resources to food banks and organizations serving those experiencing food insecurity. By allocating funds to the SFPP, we can ensure that these vital services have the resources they need to continue their mission of providing nourishment and support to Pennsylvanians in need.
  4. School Meals for ALL: $290,000,000
    Access to nutritious meals is essential for the health and well-being of Pennsylvania’s children. However, many families face barriers to accessing school meals due to financial constraints and administrative hurdles. This funding request seeks to address these challenges by increasing the state supplement for school meals and providing free school meals to all students. By eliminating financial barriers and ensuring universal access to nutritious meals, we can support the health, learning, and development of all Pennsylvania students while alleviating the burden on families struggling with food insecurity.

As the budget process unfolds, it is crucial for policymakers to prioritize investments that promote food security and address the root causes of hunger in our communities. By supporting these budget requests from the Food Security Network, Pennsylvania can take significant strides toward building a more resilient and nourished Commonwealth for all its residents.

As constituents, advocating for these priorities can make a tangible difference in the lives of our neighbors and the well-being of our state as a whole.If you are in agreement with these requests, we ask that you please contact your lawmakers. You can find your state lawmakers here and a template letter here. Let your voice be heard as we work towards a future where no one in Pennsylvania goes hungry.

Stay informed about food security programs and advocate for policies that support food security programs by signing up for our Advocacy Alerts. 

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 160 food cupboards, meal sites, and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize and educate the community to ensure equitable access to nutritious and familiar food.