Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Welcomes Pennsylvania Republican Legislators to Williamsport Healthy Food Hub
Highlights the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System and Public-Private Partnerships
Today the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank welcomed Republican members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to its Williamsport Healthy Food Hub for a tour and an informational meeting about the work of the food bank and innovative partnerships with the private sector and agriculture, such as the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS).
“I extend my appreciation to the legislators in attendance and their willingness to learn about our initiatives to end hunger in central Pennsylvania,” said Joe Arthur,
Erin Smith Wachter (Director of Advocacy and Public Policy for Central Pennsylvania Food Bank), Candice Dotterer White (Dairy farmer), and Julie Masser Balley (Vice President, Sterman Massser Inc.) spoke to the value of the PASS program to both low-income families and to Pennsylvania agriculture. PASS is a state-funded program that provides funds for the state’s food banks to purchase a variety of surplus agricultural products produced in Pennsylvania.
“Since PASS was first funded in 2015, more than 3.9 million pounds of food have been distributed through the program. This means that more than 585,000 low-income Pennsylvania households have received healthy, nutritious Pennsylvania-produced food,” stated Erin Smith Wachter, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. “The PASS partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, our food bank and the entire statewide charitable food network, and Pennsylvania farmers truly is a game-changer that ensures hungry Pennsylvanians have access to nutritious food while supporting our commonwealth’s agricultural and food industries and reducing food waste. A win, win, win.”
Dairy farmer Candice Dotterer White highlighted the benefit of PASS to Pennsylvania’s dairy industry, stating “In 2016 alone, more than 472,000 quart equivalents of fresh, local milk were purchased from Pennsylvania dairies using the PASS program - roughly 1.89 million servings of milk for families in need.” Dotterer White explained that the dairy industry is currently producing more milk than can be consumed, leading to a surplus of milk. “We value PASS as a way for farmers and processors to be reimbursed for costs involved in harvesting, processing, or packaging dairy products.”
The meeting also highlighted public-private partnerships between the Penn State Extension, Penn State Hershey Medical Center and food banks such as New Hope Ministries. Invited to speak were Dave Swartz (District Director, Penn State Extension), Judy Dillon, M.S.N., M.A., R.N. (Penn State Hershey Medical Center Director of Community Health), and Eric Saunders, MSW, LCSWS (Executive Director, New Hope Ministries).
“Penn State Extension and Penn State Hershey Medical Center partner to provide nutrition education at seven food pantries in central Pennsylvania, ultimately teaching more than 350 individuals to grow their own food and take an interest in adding fresh produce to their diets,” stated Dave Swartz, District Director, Penn State Extension. “Extensions’ Nutrition Links program offers free nutrition education to low-income Pennsylvanians to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to stretch food dollars, plan and prepare healthy meals, and read nutrition labels.”
“New Hope Ministries partners with great organizations like the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to offer healthy food, nutrition education, and opportunities to build a better life,” said Eric Saunders, Executive Director, New Hope Ministries. “Our programs are greatly benefited by state and federal programs like the State Food Purchase Program and the Neighborhood Assistance Program. We depend on churches, our community, businesses and public support to impact families in need in south central Pennsylvania. We believe in living out our faith by providing healthy food and making sure nobody goes hungry.”
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.
To read the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank testimony, click here.