MECHANICSVILLE, PA — Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding this week joined volunteers at Carversville Farm Foundation in Bucks County to harvest produce for the charitable food system.
The Carversville Farm Foundation, a new member of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS), has joined a network of more than 165 farms that will benefit from Governor Tom Wolf’s $2.5 million investment into PASS for the 2021-22 budget year, an increase of $1 million from previous years.
“Throughout COVID-19, many Pennsylvania farmers asked what more they could do to support the charitable food system,” said Redding. “The Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System is a way to provide for those in need while ensuring charitable efforts do not come at a cost to farmers. Governor Wolf’s support has been pivotal in connecting farmers and their surplus harvests to those who need it most.”
The PASS program connects the nonprofit sector to farms and food processors to help solve problems of hunger and food waste. The program funds the harvest, transport, processing and packaging of surplus food from Pennsylvania farms that is either intentionally planted for donation or would otherwise go to waste. The food is then distributed to families in 67 counties through a contract with Feeding Pennsylvania and a network of thirteen regional, charitable food distributors.
Since the PASS program was first funded by the Wolf Administration in 2015, more than 20.6 million pounds of food has been distributed to all 67 counties in the state through partners that are part of the Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania networks of food banks. More than 80 different Pennsylvania-produced foods have been sourced from 165 farmers, processors, and growers across the state. The foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, cheese, eggs, and other items that are often difficult for food pantries to obtain.
“Feeding Pennsylvania recognizes the importance and the breadth of the Commonwealth’s agriculture industry. We value the relationships with producers and processors of Pennsylvania products and work with them to help increase their involvement with our charitable food network. Supporting organizations such as the Carversville Farm Foundation and their relationship with the Bucks County Opportunity Council shows how the PASS program benefits both farmers and neighbors in need across Bucks County. It truly is a win-win.”
According to Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap report, in 2019, more than 1.35 million Pennsylvanians – 10.6% of all state residents – didn’t always know where their next meal was coming from. In 2021, as a result of the pandemic, Feeding America estimates that 1.54 million Pennsylvanians are facing food insecurity, an estimated 12%, diminishing some of the gains made in previous years.
The Bucks County Opportunity Council has partnered with Carversville Farm Foundation and 10 other PASS farms to deliver fresh produce, eggs and meats to the Council’s network of 60 food banks and distribution sites. Despite Bucks County’s rank as the third-wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, the level of wealth in the county tends to obscure the large number of people living in poverty, as nearly 41,000 citizens are living below the federal poverty line.
“When budgets are strained, produce and other perishable items are the first to be cut from shopping lists. Our partnerships with organizations like Carversville Farm Foundation and progressive policies like PASS, help families finally have the opportunity they deserve to make nutritious foods from high quality, fresh and local ingredients,” said Amanda Musselman, BCOC’s Food Program Manager. “When our families see local produce on their tables, they know someone close to home cares and it is a powerful feeling.”
“We have many bountiful farms in Bucks County, and I am especially proud of the work at Carversville Farm Foundation to grow fresh food for donation to local communities in need,” Senator Santarsiero said. “In partnership with groups like Bucks County Opportunity Council, families and individuals facing food insecurity are connected with the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables grown right here in Bucks County. Thank you to Secretary Redding for highlighting these resources and the generosity of local farmers, organizations and volunteers.”
Carversville Farm Foundation is a non-profit that grows fresh food specifically for donation. A certified organic farm, the Foundation grows vegetables, poultry, beef and eggs that benefit Philadelphia-area soup kitchens and food pantries. In 2020, the Foundation donated 120,000 pounds of food to communities in need. Carversville Farm Foundation joined PASS in 2021, partnering with the Bucks County Opportunity Council to distribute eggs and meat products.
“Relying on the cheapest foods can lead to diet-related illnesses like diabetes, obesity and hypertension. Local food pantries and soup kitchens too often must rely on donations of shelf-stable items, so for the clients they serve, fresh food is often literally off the table,” said Tony D’Orazio, Carversville Farm Foundation Co-Executive Director. “We founded Carversville Farm Foundation to change that. And the PASS Program will help further connect local farms with the families most in need of fresh food.”
Find out more about the Wolf Administration’s strategy to end hunger in Pennsylvania at dhs.pa.gov/about/ending-hunger.
For more on the PASS program, including a map of distributors, visit agriculture.pa.gov.
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