The Westmoreland County Food Bank strongly supports the 15 percent benefit increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) included in the updated HEROES Act introduced in the House of Representatives. This past year, the Westmoreland County Food Bank and the rest of Feeding America’s network of 200 food banks and 60,000 partner food pantries and meal programs have served more than 5 billion meals to our neighbors in need. Yet, for every meal Feeding America provides, SNAP provides nine. As our nation’s public health and economic crises continue with no end in sight, investing in SNAP is an efficient and cost-effective way to help families keep their pantries full while also stimulating economic activity in Westmoreland County and elsewhere.
In addition, the Westmoreland County Food Bank is grateful that the recently introduced bill invests an additional $450 million to help food banks meet the growing need for food assistance through The Emergency Food Assistance Program. Since the onset of COVID-19, the Feeding America network has reported, on average, an increase in demand of about 60 percent. As the capacity of food banks becomes more stretched than ever, we are pleased that the bill strengthens our ability to do what we do best: feed families. Additionally, we support the bill’s inclusion of additional vital investments in and improvements to SNAP, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), child nutrition programs, and school and childcare programs to help households facing hardship.
Every day, the Westmoreland County Food Bank helps families in our community have enough to eat, but we cannot meet the need alone. As people across the country face the highest food prices in 50 years and as unemployment benefit claims surpass 50 million, strong investments in both federal nutrition programs and the charitable sector are essential so families do not have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their rent. More than ever, we need our lawmakers to come together and pass a bill that strengthens every tool at our disposal to significantly curb hunger in our country. The federal nutrition provisions in this proposed bill are a critical step in that direction.
In Westmoreland County, along with over 90 partner agency programs and other fellow non-profit partners, we have seen the increase in need, heard the disparity in voices, and experienced people for the first time having to ask for a hand up. As we continue to face the pandemic’s wrath and recovery, we must know and understand that this is a marathon not a sprint, and helping those who are unable to help themselves is the right thing to do. We are all Americans, helping those in need and needing those who help.
Chief Executive Officer
Westmoreland County Food Bank, Inc.
About Westmoreland County Food Bank
The Westmoreland County Food Bank serves over 7,000 unduplicated households each month. WCFB currently has 66 member agencies in their network of emergency feeding sites. Of those, 44 are food pantries in which low income consumers are able to access emergency food assistance throughout the month. Last year (2019), the Food Bank distributed over 7 million pounds of food. 50% of WCFB’s food comes from the federal and state governments and the remaining 50% from local donations, food drives, and Feeding America™