HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf announced last week that more Pennsylvanians experiencing food insecurity are now eligible for support from the commonwealth’s network of food banks and pantries.
Income eligibility for both the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), US Department of Agriculture-funded programs administered at the state level, have been raised from 150% of the USDA-established poverty level to 185 %.
“I want to do everything I can to support success for Pennsylvanians, that’s why we’ve prioritized expanding income eligibility to allow more families to benefit from our charitable food system,” Wolf said. “No one should have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for the other essentials in life.”
The Wolf Administration acted to expand eligibility by increasing the level from 150% to 185% following a recommendation from the Emergency Food Assistance Advisory Committee. This increase allows Pennsylvania’s charitable food system to serve more food to insecure Pennsylvanians who make just above the current income limit, and also brings the SFPP and TEFAP in line with other food assistance programs such as SNAP, reduced-price school breakfast and lunches provided through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, and the Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
“I am proud to see Pennsylvania continue to find opportunities to connect more families with our food programs,” said First Lady Wolf. “Too many Pennsylvanians are faced with the unsettling reality of food insecurity but this expansion lessens that burden by increasing access to nutritious food. Actions like this are key to building a healthy commonwealth.”
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. The COVID-19 pandemic made the challenge of tackling food security even greater.
“In a state as rich in resources as Pennsylvania, no one should go hungry,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. “Improving food security for all Pennsylvania families has been a top priority from the beginning of the Wolf Administration, a challenge made greater by the pandemic. But it’s a challenge we have risen to with tangible actions that are making a very real difference in the lives of vulnerable Pennsylvanians.”
Pennsylvanians experiencing food insecurity are encouraged to explore the following programs:
- Food banks and food pantry.
- The WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs which provide vouchers to be spent at participating farmers markets in the commonwealth.
- The Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program provides eligible seniors with a monthly box of food to supplement regular groceries, and the box can be delivered by DoorDash in select areas.
- The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, provides benefits to purchase food at grocery stores and supermarkets.
- Congregate and home-delivered meals are nutritious meals available to Pennsylvanians 60 years of age or older and are delivered directly to eligible individuals’ homes. More information on these meals is available through County Area Agencies on Aging.
- The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides vouchers to be redeemed at grocery stores for specific food items.
- The Summer Meals Program provides nutritious meals to children when school is not in session.
Details of the new regulation and income requirements can be found in the PA Bulletin.
Find resources for food assistance in your area and learn more about the Wolf Administration’s tangible steps to reduce food insecurity in Pennsylvania at agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity.