PENNSYLVANIA — Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Cheryl Cook visited Downtown Daily Bread this past week to highlight the importance of food assistance programs and the charitable food network to help people facing food insecurity as well as how the Shapiro Administration is working to help Pennsylvanians meet this essential need. September is Hunger Action Month, which aims to raise awareness about the prevalence of food insecurity and encourage people to help in any way they can.
“Having enough to eat and having access to nutritious food is vital to a person’s physical and mental health, including their ability to learn, grow, and thrive. Every Pennsylvanian deserves the dignity and peace of mind of knowing where their next meal is coming from,” said Secretary Arkoosh. “I encourage those who need help paying for food to apply for nutrition assistance, and for those who are able, to donate your money and your time to local food banks, pantries, and community kitchens. Our communities are only as strong as our neighbors who are struggling, so we all must work together to make sure everyone has what they need to live well, pursue their goals, and thrive.”
The Shapiro Administration is committed to fighting hunger and food insecurity across the Commonwealth. The Governor’s 2023-24 budget includes:
- $46.5 million in funding to provide universal free breakfast to all of Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million public school students and free lunch to all 22,000 Pennsylvania students who are eligible for reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program;
- $2 million to fund the Fresh Food Financing Initiative that will contribute to better health outcomes by improving access to PA-grown, processed, and produced foods; and
- $2 million increase to the State Food Purchase Program to provide state funds for emergency food assistance for low-income Pennsylvanians, connect surplus food donated by farmers through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System to food banks and food pantries statewide, and connect low-income seniors to Senior Food Boxes filled with nutritious dietary staples.
“Healthy food and resources to produce it are abundant in Pennsylvania,” said Deputy Secretary Cook. “But that wealth of food resources is not accessible to many low-income families, seniors, and others who are at risk of hunger. It takes public investment and partnerships with charitable organizations and producers to get nutritious, healthy food to those who need it. The Shapiro Administration has demonstrated its strong commitment to investing in effective partnerships to fight hunger in Pennsylvania.”
DHS administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps people buy nutritious food from a variety of vendors, such as grocery stores, farmers markets, online outlets, and more. Nearly two million Pennsylvanians receive SNAP benefits each month. The Department of Agriculture’s food assistance programs partner with Feeding Pennsylvania, Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, and their charitable food distribution networks in all 67 counties across the state, increasing the availability of fresh, healthy foods to places like Downtown Daily Bread.
Downtown Daily Bread (DDB) provides free breakfasts and lunches from a full-service kitchen seven days a week to our homeless and hungry populations. DDB also provides a day shelter all week and a night shelter during the winter months, as well as other essential personal services. On average, they serve more than 100 breakfasts and 100 lunches to people daily.
“As a certified Chef, Hunger Action Month has always been near and dear to my heart. While Director of the DDB Kitchen, I brought well balanced and nutritious meals to our clientele. Everyone, no matter your circumstance in life, deserves the type of meals I would serve in my kitchen, at home or in restaurants,” said DDB Executive Director Chef Corrie Lingenfelter. “We partner with the Hunger Caucus, Harrisburg University, and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to bring fresh produce and ingredients to our kitchen every week. These important partnerships are vital as we collectively make an impact in combating hunger in our region. You too can be a part of this effort by going to our website and donating today.”
In addition to the Governor’s 2023-24 budget, the Shapiro Administration has made recommendations on the 2023 federal Farm Bill, which sets policy for five years on everything from the agricultural industry to conservation to nutrition assistance programs, and much more. The Shapiro Administration is advocating for protecting and expanding access to SNAP funding by raising the resource limit, increasing supports for voluntary employment and training programs that help participants overcome barriers to achieving sustainable employment, making permanent the temporary eligibility changes for college students, increasing the earned income deduction, and more.
Pennsylvanians who need help paying for food can apply for SNAP and other public assistance programs at dhs.pa.gov.
To find a local food bank, visit the Feeding America webpage