Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Executive Director Testifies Before Congress Urging Full Support for the Food Stamp Program
HARRISBURG, PA – On Capitol Hill today, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Executive Director Joe Arthur urged Congressional leaders to consider the important role that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) plays in the lives of Pennsylvanians facing hunger as they craft the next federal farm bill.
“The Pennsylvanians that our food bank serves rely on federal programs to help meet their families’ needs. SNAP is the backbone of the national nutrition safety net, the first line of defense against hunger, helping nearly 1.8 million people (14.2 percent of Pennsylvanians) buy groceries every month,” said Arthur. “While we do make a difference for people in our community, national programs reach far more people – and we simply could not backfill the increased demand on the charitable food system that would result if any of these safety net programs were eliminated or cut.”
In oral and written testimony before the United States House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Arthur outlined five key policy considerations for Congress to keep in mind while negotiating the next farm bill:
1. SNAP supports agriculture, local economies, jobs, and retailers;
2. SNAP is timely and responds to changes in need;
3. SNAP is temporary and encourages work;
4. SNAP provides states flexibility and federal accountability; and
5. SNAP is efficient and accurate.
“The roughly $2.6 billion in SNAP dollars issued in Pennsylvania in Fiscal Year 2015 generated $4.6 billion in economic activity. The economic benefits spread throughout the entire food supply chain, benefiting grocers, retailers, manufacturers, producers and farmers, while supporting the millions of jobs they provide,” said Arthur.
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank distributes more than 48 million pounds of food and grocery products, equivalent to more than 40 million meals, every year to more than 900 soup kitchens, shelters, and food pantries in 27 central Pennsylvania counties. These agencies directly feed thousands of hungry families throughout central Pennsylvania.
“The 27 counties within our service territory represent the most rural of the commonwealth. While we have more than 1.8 million people in our state who struggle with hunger, we are blessed with more than 57,000 family farms – 30,000 of which are in our service territory,” said Joe Arthur, executive director, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.
“In a region as agriculturally rich as central Pennsylvania, there is no reason that anyone should go to bed hungry.”
Arthur was invited to testify by Nutrition Subcommittee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-5). Other witnesses were: Stacy Dean, Vice President for Food Assistance Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Washington, D.C.; Russell Sykes, Director, Center for Employment and Economic Well-Being, American Public Human Services Association, Washington, D.C.; Josh Protas, Vice President of Public Policy, MAZON - A Jewish Response to Hunger, Washington, D.C.; Jennifer Hatcher, Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs, Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, VA.
“We thank Chairman Thompson for inviting us to testify today and for his exemplary leadership on the House Agriculture Committee,” said Erin Smith Wachter, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. “As the Committee works on a new farm bill, we look forward to working with him to demonstrate how strong support for nutrition programs and agriculture programs can strengthen communities such as the one we serve in central Pennsylvania.”
View full testimony