(The Center Square) — State grants issued this week will help counties feed some of the 1.5 million residents facing food insecurity every day.
On Tuesday, Gov. Josh Shapiro announced that $1.6 million will go to 40 food banks, pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens to make emergency meals easier to get in 26 counties.
Most grants ranged from $30,000-$50,000, with 20 food banks receiving $50,000 from Bradford and Monroe Counties to Allegheny to Montgomery Counties.
The money comes after $2 million in Shapiro’s budget was designated for emergency food assistance for low-income families, adding surplus food from farmers to the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System, and providing for Senior Food boxes.
“No one should go hungry in a state with the wealth and bounty we have in Pennsylvania,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a press release. “But far too often families do not know where their next meal is coming from and they need our help.”
The Department of Agriculture cites numbers from Feeding America that 1.35 million Pennsylvanians didn’t always know where their next meal would come from before the pandemic, which rose to 1.77 million in 2020 before falling slightly to 1.5 million in 2021.
The General Assembly, too, has warned of food security in the state due to inflation driving up prices. Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Rochester, said in press release the issue “has taken root in each and every county,” forcing residents to choose between paying for their mortgage, medication, food or child care.
“As we continue to navigate through the current economic fluctuations, we must be steadfast in the fight to ensure ALL Pennsylvanians have access to adequate, healthy food,” he said.
The state has also seen federal funds to support getting food to residents instead of letting it go to waste.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $25 million effort nationwide to reduce food loss and waste, which will provide $400,000 to Sharing Excess in Philadelphia. The nonprofit will have a four-year grant to “connect surplus food at grocery stores and wholesalers to community-based food access organizations, ensuring no food ever goes to waste while there are people to feed.”
The goal is to redistribute more than 6 million pounds of food, mostly produce, to provide more than 5 million meals to Philadelphia residents.