Underscoring the importance of providing low-income Pennsylvanians with access to nutritious food resources, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding today spoke with representatives of the Westmoreland County Food Bank about the value of their work in the community.
“Access to food is a basic right that should be afforded to each of us,” said Redding. “When we make it more cost-effective to purchase items that aren’t nutritious in value, we’ve got the formula wrong. Our visit to this food bank underscores the importance of working to get nutritious, healthy foods to our residents.”
From L to R: Tom Dubs, Hunger-Free Pennsylvania; Lori Weston, Community Food Warehouse, Mercer County; Rich Ebert, PA Farm Bureau President; Secretary Russell Redding; Jane Clement-Smith, Feeding Pennsylvania; Kris Douglas, CEO Westmoreland County Food Bank; Mimi Prada, Community Food Warehouse, Mercer County; Rachel Schneider, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
The department oversees the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP). This is one of the largest programs of its kind and reflects the state’s determination to address problems related to nutrition and hunger. Governor Wolf’s 2015-2016 budget proposal funds the program at more than $20.3 million, which supplements the efforts of food banks, soup kitchens and similar organizations. Included in this allocation is $3 million in first-time funding for the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS.) These funds will provide the state’s emergency food providers with resources to support Pennsylvania’s agricultural producers, supporting their efforts to get even more locally-produced and sourced commodities in the hands of those in need of food assistance.
The governor’s budget also includes more than $2 million additional funds for the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which will provide a combined total of $5.5 million to assist residents in need with purchasing fresh produce. Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that provide state funding in addition to federal grants for the program. As a result, all of Pennsylvania is covered by the program.
“We have nearly two million residents who are food insecure in our commonwealth,” Redding added. “Something is fundamentally wrong here. Governor Wolf understands the importance of investing back in our state, in our local communities and in giving everyone a chance to succeed.”
Low-income and older Pennsylvanians can apply for vouchers to purchase local produce at farmers markets and farm stands across the state through FMNP. Eligible older adults and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participants can use four $5 vouchers to buy locally- grown fruits and vegetables at qualified farm market stands through the state and federal program. The funds cannot be used on processed foods such as jams, honey, nuts, cider or baked goods, or on citrus or tropical fruits.
For more information about Farmers Market Nutrition Program or the State Food Purchase Program, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us. Search “Farmers Market Nutrition Program” and/or “State Food Purchase Program.”
For more information about Governor Wolf’s “Government That Works” initiative, visit https://www.governor.pa.gov/priorities/.
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