WENY News: State Ag Program Links Surplus Farm Food With Food Banks
Monday, March 9th 2020, 4:41 PM EDT by Cody Carlson
Harrisburg, PA (WENY) -- The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is highlighting an initiative that connects food-insecure families with farmers that have excess food. It’s called the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System, or PASS Program.
Since its inception in 2016, the PASS Program has helped distribute more than 11.4 million pounds of food to families in need across the state.
“We live in Pennsylvania, it’s an Ag state with 53 thousand farms. So for anyone to be denied access to food in Pennsylvania is just unacceptable,” says Jane Clements-Smith, Executive Director of Feeding Pennsylvania.
According to the USDA, one in eight Pennsylvanians doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from. That’s about 1.53 million residents. At the same time, there are farmers in the state who have extra food that sometimes goes to waste.
“We are proud of our agricultural community and the production of our state. We also live in a state that’s concerned about those who are less fortunate than we are who have a need every day to have access to good food and nutrition who are food insecure,” says Russell Redding, Secretary of the PA Dept. of Agriculture.
That’s where the PASS program comes in. It gives farmers funding, which allows them to connect with food banks across Pennsylvania to deliver excess products. It’s in collaboration with organizations like Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania. The extra food delivered to these food banks is then made available to vulnerable families.
“This great Pennsylvania Agriculture Surplus System program, which gives our food banks access to surplus products like protein, eggs, milk, cheese, and produce,” Clements-Smith explains.
The PASS program has provided food sourced from 134 farmers, growers, and processors across the Commonwealth. State leaders say addressing food insecurity requires collaboration from all levels of Government.
“Together, we can improve access to healthy, nutritious food for our citizens, for our children, our families, and our older Pennsylvanians. This PASS program is a great example of that continued commitment,” says Teresa Miller, Secretary of the PA Dept. of Human Services. Governor Tom Wolf is asking the legislature for a one million dollar increase in funding for the PASS program in this year’s budget proposal. If approved, that would bring the program’s funding to approximately $2.5 million. Original Post