The Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Education today reminded Pennsylvanians to take advantage of the many summer food assistance programs for students and caretakers across the commonwealth. State and local options are available to Pennsylvania families facing food insecurity this summer.
“No matter the time of year, we cannot grow young minds on empty stomachs,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “School feeding programs ensure students have nutritious meals during the school year, but when the school year ends, summer options are available to both children and their caretakers. Food is a necessity we all deserve equal access to, but this is especially true for our youngest and most vulnerable populations.”
According to 2019 food insecurity data provided by Feeding America, 10.6% of Pennsylvanians — or 1,353,730 people — did not always know where their next meal was coming from. That number included 383,500 children, 14.6% of all children in the state. When school-based meals end with the school year, addressing child food insecurity can become an even greater challenge.
“At the Department of Education, we work tirelessly to ensure that students are healthy and cared for both in and out of the classroom,” said Education Secretary Eric Hagarty. “Fortunately, assistance is available no matter which city or town you call home, and at no cost to you. We encourage Pennsylvanians in need to take advantage of these critical resources throughout the summer months.”
Options for Pennsylvania caretakers and children experiencing food insecurity include:
- The Seamless Summer Option, which provides nutritious meals to children when school is not in session.
- The Summer Food Service Program for children participating in enrichment, recreational, or activity programs over the summer.
- Many food banks have backpack programs available during both the school year and summer months. Food banks and food pantries can be found using this map.
- The WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs which provide vouchers to qualifying individuals to be spent at participating farmers markets in the commonwealth.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, provides benefits to purchase food at grocery stores and supermarkets.
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides vouchers to be redeemed at grocery stores for specific food items.
- The Emergency Food Assistance and State Food Purchase programs, which recently expanded assistance eligibility for Pennsylvanians facing food insecurity.
Seniors and seniors taking care of children also may be eligible for the following:
- The Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program, which provides eligible seniors with a monthly box of food to supplement regular groceries, the box can be delivered by DoorDash in select areas.
- Congregate and home-delivered meals available to Pennsylvanians 60 years of age or older. Meals are directly delivered to eligible individuals’ homes through County Area Agencies on Aging.
Learn more about the Wolf Administration’s commitment to reduce food insecurity in Pennsylvania at agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity.