Governor Tom Wolf’s new plan to fight hunger in Pennsylvania was announced on September 22nd. The announcement describes a “blueprint” of specific goals to be achieved by 2020.
Most of the goals focus on making better use of current federal and state assistance programs, like SNAP (Food Stamps), school breakfast, lunch and summer feeding programs for children, and distributing more Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers (a state program offering vouchers that mothers of small children can only spend at PA farmers markets). In food banking circles, striving to not “leave money on the table” is an ongoing practice.
Other goals focus on building awareness and improving bureaucracy, like publishing application forms in several languages. The last item states that “Pennsylvania will improve access to healthy, nutritious food.”
“It’s good to see the Governor make a conscious commitment to ending hunger in our state,” said Matthew Bolton, director of the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry. “Ending hunger is really a matter of gathering the political will and then working together to make it happen.”
According to Feeding America, the national organization of food banks, more than 1.7 million Pennsylvanians experience “food insecurity.” More than 3,000 of those people live in our community. Food security is defined as having enough food and nutrition to live a normal healthy life.
What would implementation of this blueprint mean to southwestern Pennsylvania? As an
agricultural state, the FMNP supports Pennsylvania farmers. Data has shown that every
SNAP dollar spent by recipients brings $9.00 of economic activity to the community. Providing more fresh produce and other healthy food improves community health and has been proven to reduce healthcare costs.
The Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry (SHCFP) has been working to eliminate hunger in our community for years. Through our extensive outreach efforts, we have been able to support more and more families with food and other assistance. We are also committed to providing large percentages of healthy food and produce to our clients. And to serve particular needs in our community, SHCFP is the only pantry that provides kosher food in this region and is one of very few that offers gluten-free options.
If you need food assistance, you can contact the Pantry at 412-421-2708. The Pantry has a SNAP Outreach Coordinator who can pre-screen for eligibility and help fill out applications for SNAP benefits. Eligible clients can register at the Pantry and receive food at least once a month, and anyone in need of emergency food will be served.
We believe that people going hungry in our community, for any reason, is unacceptable, and we are very fortunate to have many supporters and volunteers who feel the same way. The ability of the Pantry to serve those in need depends on that support. You can make a donation to help feed the 3,000 people who struggle with hunger in our community, or you can volunteer a few hours of your time to help us keep up with the day-to-day activities like sorting and shelving food. If you would like to volunteer, call (412-421-2708) or email the Pantry.