Budget Holds the Line on Anti-Hunger Programs
By Sheila Christopher, Executive Director
The 2019-20 budget is a wrap. The General Assembly and governor have agreed on a fiscally tight $34 billion spending plan that holds the line on taxes and increases spending only slightly over levels from last year. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
As in previous years, the final budget holds the line on funding for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), one of Pennsylvania’s most critical anti-hunger programs, as well as the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS), which redirects millions of pounds of Pennsylvania-grown fruits and vegetables to nutritious family meals.
That neither line item increased is disappointing. Hunger still affects far too many residents, meaning millions of working families, children and seniors don’t have access to healthy, nutritious meals. There isn’t a single legislative district in Pennsylvania left unaffected.
While we are grateful for the support shown for these programs --- lawmakers made clear that even in a challenging budget year, maintaining support was a priority --- the need is still too great and we must do more to combat hunger and food insecurity.
This budget is no reflection of the work done by anti-hunger advocates. Thank you to everyone who made your voice heard or stepped up to inform your lawmakers, whether in Harrisburg or in Harrisburg at one of the many Capitol days this year. Your effort was nothing short of astounding.
For those who strive every day to ensure no one goes hungry, this isn’t a job as much as it is a calling. Our commitment will not waver. And we will continue to fight until state government fully recognizes the negative impact of food insecurity and understands completely its commitment to easing the harm of hunger in Pennsylvania.