“Having enough to eat is a privilege that is easy to overlook, but food and nutrition are essential for good health and general well-being. As we celebrate No Hunger Month, I want to thank the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, their dedicated volunteers and all of our charity food network partners for their heroic work in supporting our communities over the past year and a half. Said Acting Secretary Snead. “This work helps people meet this most essential basic need and provides well-deserved security through unprecedented challenges so those in need know they don’t have to go hungry. As we continue to navigate the pandemic and our economic recovery, please know that this resource will continue to be there to help keep our communities safe and healthy. “
According to Feeding Pennsylvania, an estimated 2 million Pennsylvanians – including 630,000 children – did not have reliable access to adequate nutritious meals and were food insecure in 2020. Last year, nearly one in 20 Pennsylvanians was newly food insecure. Feeding America’s national projections for hunger in 2021 show improvements from last year, but hunger and food insecurity are still much higher in the country compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“Last year, the pandemic led to a significant increase in food insecurity across Pennsylvania due to temporary unemployment due to restrictions aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19,” said Jane Clements, chief executive of Feeding Pennsylvania. “But despite the improvement in numbers, many of our neighbors continue to face great needs and impossible choices. For many families, it is often a decision between food or other basic needs such as child care, utility bills or medication. Feeding PA is inviting people from across the state to join us in Action Against Hunger Month to help raise awareness and raise funds to ensure that no one in Pennsylvania goes without food.
Inadequate diet and chronic nutritional deficiencies have profound effects on a person’s life and health, including increased risk of chronic disease, higher risk of hospitalization, poorer overall health, and increased health costs. . As the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, access to basic needs like food is more important than ever to help keep vulnerable populations healthy and mitigate accompanying health risks.
The Pennsylvania Charitable Food Network has been an integral partner in the fight against hunger on the front lines in Commonwealth communities. Food banks in Pennsylvania typically serve about 2.2 million people a year, but since the onset of the public health crisis in March 2020, these food banks have served nearly 356.6 million pounds of food to over 41 , 8 million duplicate people.
As a result of COVID-19, southwestern Pennsylvania has experienced a 31% overall increase in food insecurity over 2019 rates. Through its work with more than 850 agencies, partners and programs spanning 11 counties in the region, the Food Bank distributed enough food for nearly 45 million meals between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. With a commitment to stabilize the lives of the families it serves, nearly 3.4 millions of these meals were provided through on-demand assistance from the Food Bank’s Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
SNAP helps nearly 1.8 million Pennsylvanians by providing cash each month to spend on groceries, helping households have the resources to purchase enough food to avoid going hungry. SNAP is our country’s largest and most impactful anti-hunger program. For every meal provided by a Feeding Pennsylvania food bank, SNAP provides nine.
Applications for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and other public assistance programs can be submitted online at www.compass.state.pa.us or by phone at 1-866-550-4355. On-site County Assistance Office (CAO) services are available if customers cannot access online services or need assistance that is not accessible through the COMPASS website, mobile app myCOMPASS PA or by calling customer service centers at 215-560-7226 for Philadelphia customers or 1-877-395-8930 for customers in all other counties.
All Pennsylvanians facing financial hardship due to the pandemic, job loss or change in income are strongly encouraged to apply and see if they are eligible for assistance with food, care health and other basic needs.
Anyone interested in volunteering can find organizations in need of volunteer support on the United Way of Pennsylvania 211 website.
For more information on the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and local agency partners, visit www.pittsburghfoodbank.org.
For more information on food aid resources for people around Pennsylvania affected by COVID-19 and the economic insecurity that accompanies it, visit the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Guide.
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