Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced that the department has purchased an additional $12.9 million worth of U.S. Department of Agriculture Foods through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) in Pennsylvania to provide critical support and food to food banks in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
These supplemental federal funds, provided as part of the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 in response to increased needs driven by COVID-19, have been used to purchase more than 7.9 million pounds of food, which will be delivered between June and December 2021.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the department distributed, on average, approximately 23 million pounds of USDA Foods through TEFAP every federal fiscal year. In federal fiscal year 2020, which ran from October 2019 through September 2020, the department distributed nearly 70 million pounds of food through TEFAP. And, in federal fiscal year 2021, with the addition of this food, the department is once again on track to distribute an estimated 70 million pounds of USDA Foods.
“While we’re actively getting Pennsylvanians back to work as the pandemic slows, many are still recovering from severe economic stress which has in turn stressed our charitable food system,” said Redding. “These federal funds are allowing us to increase the flow of food to food banks across the commonwealth as they work to continue meeting unprecedented demand.”
The department will push $3.2 million in TEFAP money directly to the food banks to cover administrative costs associated with storage, transportation, and distribution of the USDA Foods. In addition to this direct funding, the department has purchased 7.9 million pounds of USDA Foods – including meats, vegetables, canned goods, cheese and more – to the state’s food banks to distribute through their network of local food pantries and other distribution agencies. The food will be disbursed statewide to individuals in need of assistance in all 67 counties.
“We’re proud of all that Pennsylvanians have done to get us to this point, to mitigate against loss and bring us to a new year with new hope and a vaccine,” added Redding. “I encourage anyone who is still experiencing a financial strain to take advantage of these foods through your local food pantry. Better days are ahead, but for now, take a hand up.”
Pennsylvanians looking for help to put food on the table are eligible for state and federal food assistance found at Pennsylvania’s food banks and pantries. Additional support can be found through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
For more about the Wolf Administration’s efforts to address food insecurity in Pennsylvania, visit agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity.