The Wolf Administration’s Food Security Partnership yesterday joined Feeding Pennsylvania and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to recognize Hunger Action Month and encourage continued support for Pennsylvania’s charitable food network, which has seen an unprecedented rise in need amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic downturn.
Leadership from the departments of Aging, Agriculture, and Human Services and the charitable food network partners also urged anyone who is having trouble making ends meet to remember that Pennsylvania’s charitable food network is ready and able to help so no one, no matter the circumstances they are facing, has to go hungry.
“The last six months have upended normalcy for all of us, but for too many Pennsylvanians, this crisis has destabilized financial situations and further strained resources for those already living at or near poverty,” said Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller. “Pennsylvania’s charitable food network mobilized quickly to serve individuals and families in their communities so people affected by job or income loss would not have to go hungry, and the Wolf Administration is incredibly grateful for their unending commitment to communities they serve. Hunger and food insecurity can have lasting impact on a person’s physical health and overall well-being. I urge anyone in need to use this resource so they do not have to go without this essential need.”
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. As the nation faces 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.
More than 2 million Pennsylvanians – including 630,000 children – do not have reliable access to adequate, nutritious meals and live in food insecurity every day. According to Feeding Pennsylvania, nearly one in 20 Pennsylvanians are newly food insecure. Pennsylvania’s food banks typically serve approximately 2.2 million Pennsylvanians annually, but in the first three months of the public health crisis, these food banks had more than 5.5 million visits. Before COVID-19, three counties had a food security rate at or above 13 percent. Today, 64 of 67 counties are at least 13 percent food insecure, and 32 counties are at least 16.5 percent food insecure.
“Throughout the pandemic, our farmers, food processors, retailers and charitable food network have pulled together to keep food on the table for their neighbors across Pennsylvania,” Agriculture Department Deputy Secretary Cheryl Cook said. “These resources are available to those who may have never needed help before. No one in Pennsylvania should go hungry. Please reach out to your neighbors and friends to make sure they know there is help available.”
Pennsylvanians who need help feeding themselves or their family should find and contact their local food bank or pantry through Feeding Pennsylvania at https://feedingpa.org/
and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania at https://www.hungerfreepa.org/