HARRISBURG – On Wednesday, the Wolf administration joined Feeding Pennsylvania and leadership from Pennsylvania’s food banks to recognize Hunger Action Month.
The administration is encouraging continued support for Pennsylvania’s charitable food network, which has seen an unprecedented and sustained rise in need, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic instability.
“As a Pennsylvanian, I take great pride in knowing that we have a dedicated charitable food network that has gone above and beyond to feed those experiencing hunger and food insecurity in our Commonwealth,” said First Lady Frances Wolf. “The numbers — 2 million Pennsylvanians — are devastating, but our food banks, our volunteers and our food partners continue to show us that we can do something to lessen the impact of hunger in our communities. In this past year-and-a-half, when we were all faced with uncertainty, they demonstrated just how powerful we are when we come together to support one another. Food insecurity is everyone’s issue, and it will take all of us to stand up against it during Hunger Action Month and every month if we want to end it.”
Last year, nearly one in 20 Pennsylvanians were newly food insecure. Feeding America’s national projections for hunger in 2021 show improvements compared to last year, but hunger and food insecurity are still much higher around the country compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“Having enough to eat is a privilege that’s easy to overlook, but food and nutrition are essential to good health and overall well-being,” said Acting Human Services Secretary Meg Snead. “This work helps people meet this most essential basic need and provides much deserved security through unprecedented challenges, so people who are struggling know that they do not have to go hungry. As we continue to navigate the pandemic and our economic recovery, please know that this resource will continue to be here to help keep our communities safe and healthy.”
According to Feeding Pennsylvania, approximately 2 million Pennsylvanians – including 630,000 children – did not have reliable access to adequate, nutritious meals and were food insecure in 2020.
“A hungry child cannot learn to their full potential,” said Vonda Ramp, the State Director of Child Nutrition Programs at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. “I’d like to thank our partners in schools and in the agriculture and food and nutrition industries for their tireless efforts, during Hunger Action Month and every month, to ensure children across Pennsylvania have continued access to nutritious school meals.”
Inadequate food and chronic nutrient deficiencies have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased risks for chronic diseases, higher chances of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased health care costs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to essential needs like food is more important than ever to help keep vulnerable populations healthy and mitigate co-occurring health risks.
“Last year, the pandemic led to a significant increase in food insecurity across Pennsylvania, due to temporary unemployment as a result of restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Jane Clements, Chief Executive Officer of Feeding Pennsylvania. “But despite the improvement in numbers, many of our neighbors continue to face great need and impossible choices. For many families, it’s often a decision between food or other critical needs such as childcare, utility bills, or medication. Feeding PA invites individuals across the state to join us this Hunger Action Month to help raise awareness and funds to ensure that no one in Pennsylvania goes without food.”
Pennsylvania’s charitable food network has been fighting hunger on the front lines in communities across the Commonwealth. Food banks in Pennsylvania typically serve approximately 2.2 million people annually, but since the public health crisis began in March 2020, these food banks have served nearly 356.6 million pounds of food to more than 41.8 million duplicated individuals.
Help with buying food is also available through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other public assistance programs can be submitted online HERE or by phone at 1-866-550-4355.
On-site County Assistance Office (CAO) services are available if clients cannot access online services or need assistance that cannot be accessed through the COMPASS website, the myCOMPASS PA mobile app, or by calling the Customer Service Centers 1-877-395-8930 or at 215-560-7226 for clients in Philadelphia clients.
All Pennsylvanians experiencing financial hardships due to the pandemic, a lost job, or a change in income are strongly encouraged to apply and see if they qualify for assistance with food, health care, and other essential needs.
Anyone interested in volunteering can find organizations in need of volunteer support on the United Way of Pennsylvania’s 211 website.
For more information about food assistance resources for people around Pennsylvania impacted by COVID-19 and the accompanying economic insecurity, click HERE.
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