HARRISBURG – Citing the Wolf Administration’s Blueprint for a Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and first-ever support for an innovative program that is connecting farmers with those facing hunger, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding recently accepted the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s Hunger Heroes Advocacy Partner Award.
“I’ve often said that you cannot have a charitable food system without a food system that is charitable,” said Redding.
“It is my honor to accept this Hunger Heroes Award not only on behalf of the Governor and the department, but also the tens of thousands of Pennsylvania farmers and food producers who work tirelessly to support their local communities and their neighbors who may not have enough food to eat.
“We are proud of the partnership that has grown between the agriculture community and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Together, we’re putting more food to good use feeding Pennsylvanians who are in need.”
“The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture works tirelessly to help low-income Pennsylvanians access nutritious food through its administration of numerous state and federal resources such as the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System,” stated Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
“Secretary Redding is also a leader in Governor Wolf’s administration in implementing the recommendations outlined in the Blueprint for a Hunger-Free Pennsylvania.
“The department is making deep connections between food security and agriculture, and building long-lasting partnerships within the state’s charitable food system.
“They are a valuable advocacy partner in our efforts to fight hunger.”
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System, also known as PASS, was created through Act 113 of 2010.
The law authorized the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to operate a system for the commonwealth’s food industry to donate, sell or otherwise provide food products to Pennsylvania’s charitable food organizations, but the program was never funded until Gov. Tom Wolf included funding in his 2015-16 budget proposal.
Since then, the commonwealth has committed $1 million toward the PASS program in each of the past three years.
“Hunger impacts every county in Pennsylvania,” said Redding. “We have an estimated 1.8 million Pennsylvanians who struggle with uncertainty about the source of their next meal.
“Tragically, nearly 600,000 of those suffering people are children. In a state with an agricultural industry as robust as we have here in Pennsylvania, that is simply unacceptable.
“There is healthy and nutritious food available in the fields that never make it into the food supply, and we want to see it put onto the plates of people who need it. The PASS program makes it easier for more of the state’s producers to contribute to the cause.”
Funds made available through PASS help to support Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry statewide – making connections between production agriculture and the non-profit sector responsible for making food available to those in need.
During 2016 and 2017, more than 80 producers have participated in this safe, efficient system to donate products.
PASS provides an alternative market for many farmers and food producers in the commonwealth that currently have no outlet for safe, but imperfect produce that would otherwise be left to rot in the field, plowed under, dumped or landfilled.
Producers, packers and processors are reimbursed for costs involved in harvesting, processing and or packaging donated product.
The PASS program, now in its third year, keeps Pennsylvania-grown products in the state to help meet people’s basic food needs.
In April 2016, PDA awarded a contract to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to administer PASS on behalf of the commonwealth.
The food bank subcontracts with 11 other food banks and emergency food providers located throughout the state to purchase and distribute food using PASS funds.
Each of these providers is allocated funding to execute PASS in their respective service territories – ensuring that product from this program is equitably delivered to all 67 counties.
Other Hunger Hero honorees included Morgan Stanley (Corporate/Foundation Partner), GIANT Food Stores (Food Donor award), the late Benjamin Olewine III (Individual Philanthropist award), Judy VanSant (Individual Volunteer award), Milton Bicentennial Conagra Brands and John Meckley (Innovative Partner award) and Carmella (Volunteer Group).
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is the largest non-profit food distribution organization in the state, serving 27 counties and more than 900 partner agencies (food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, etc.) that directly serve people struggling with hunger.
The food bank distributes more than 48 million pounds of food and grocery products. That is the equivalent of 40 million meals.
Learn more about the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System program online.