Pa. to distribute 7.9M lbs. of emergency food to food banks | Tuesday Morning Coffee

April 6, 2021 7:05 am

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Food banks across Pennsylvania saw an explosion in their use in 2020 as the pandemic shuttered the economy and millions were put out of work. A year later, those same institutions, which already have helped millions, are still feeling the stress from that increased demand.

That’s why the state Department of Agriculture says it’s purchased an additional 7.9 million pounds of emergency food from the federal government. The food, valued at $12.9 million, will be delivered between June and December of this year, the agency said in a statement.

“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,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a statement. “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 state says it’s going to channel $3.2 million in federal money, provided through the U.S. government’s Emergency Food Assistance Program, to help food banks cover administrative costs, as well as the transportation and storage of the emergency food, which includes meats, vegetables, canned goods, and cheese to local food pantries and other access points.  

(Image via The State of Childhood Obesity)

The amount of emergency food purchased through the federal government’s program has skyrocketed during the pandemic, rising from an average of 23 million pounds of food a year before the pandemic to 70 million pounds of food in fiscal 2020. The state is on track to distribute an additional 70 million in USDA food in fiscal 2021, the agency said.

According to the most recent data available, 12.5 percent of Pennsylvanians reported experiencing some form of food insecurity, according to The State of Childhood Obesity, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

People who experience food insecurity often have to reduce the quality or variety of their diet, according to the State of Childhood Obesity. Overall food insecurity rates nationwide range from  7.4 percent in North Dakota to 20.1 percent in Mississippi, the organization’s data shows.

Redding said he encouraged state residents “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.”

If you’re experiencing food insecurity and need help, you’re eligible for state and federal food assistance at Pennsylvania’s food banks and pantries. You can find additional support 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, the Agriculture Department said.

John L. Micek | Editor

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
Republicans in the state House are moving a bill that would ban transgender women from participating in interscholastic athletics even though the bill is facing a certain veto, is unconstitutional, and not remotely based in science. Stephen Caruso has the details on this solution in search of a problem.

David Thornburgh, the head of the Committee of Seventy, and the son of the late Gov. Richard Thornburgh, is touring Pennsylvania in a VW van to raise redistricting awarenessCaruso also reports.

Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, the chairwoman of Montgomery County’s Board of Commissioners, has entered the very crowded Democratic primary field  for U.S. Senate in 2022, I report.

Our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News talk to activist Matthew J. Wong, a co-founder of Philadelphia Asian & Queer, which has been a safe haven during a time of heightened anti-Asian violence.

On our Commentary Page this morning, a University of Pennsylvania expert explains that not all free college programs are created equal. And the Philadelphia Tribune’s Michael Coard explains what happens if Derek Chauvin is acquitted in the death of George Floyd.

Voters line up at a polling place on Election Day. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

If state lawmakers agree, yours could be the deciding vote in the decennial redistrictingSpotlight PA reports (via the Inquirer).
Pittsburgh’s public schools will welcome back students today, the Post-Gazette reports.
Some good news for central Pennsylvania movie buffs: A new owner for Haar’s Drive-in in Dillsburg, York County plans to keep showing movies for years, PennLive reports.
Local group LancasterHistory has received a grant to digitize its collections on Black and indigenous residents, LancasterOnline reports (paywall).
The Hanover Area schools in Luzerne County have suspended classes because of a COVID-19 outbreak, the Citizens’ Voice reports.
The York Daily Record has what you need to know about the 2021 elections (paywall).

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:


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A Philadelphia woman facing road rage charges has sued the city prosecutor, alleging that her arrest was ‘unjustified,’ WHYY-FM reports.
The federal government has proposed more bed space in the Berks Family Residential Center, which houses detained migrants, WITF-FM reports.
Erie County’s COVID-19 hospitalizations are continuing to drop, GoErie reports.
U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District, has ruled out a 2022 U.S. Senate bid, PoliticsPA reports. looks at issues of COVID-19 vaccine equity in the states.
Roll Call 
looks at why Congressional Republicans have switched their votes on bills they previously supported.

What Goes On.
The House comes in at 11 a.m.
9 a.m.: 523 Irvis South: House Professional Licensure Committee
10 a.m.: 515 Irvis North: House Aging & Older Adult Services Committee
10 a.m, 60EW: House Transportation Committee
10 a.m.: Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee
10:30 a.m., 140 Main Capitol: House Government Oversight Committee
11 a.m., Capitol Steps: Rally for the families of people who died of COVID-19 while incarcerated.

Budget hearings also resume in the state Senate. Here’s today’s schedule. All hearings are live-streamed from the Senate chamber.
10 a.m.: State-related universities
1 p.m.: Dept. of Military & Veterans Affairs
3 p.m.: Pa.Treasury Department

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
8 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Rep. David Millard
8 a.m.: 
Breakfast for Rep. Tommy Sankey
11 a.m.: 
Luncheon for Sen. Ryan Aument
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out a mere $2,000 today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
The biggest of best wishes go out this morning to our own Stephen Caruso, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Miss the Mimosa Dept.
I love brunch. You love brunch. It’s basically an excuse to drink and eat dessert at midday on Sunday. But what if …  just what if …  it’s also a relic best left in the pre-pandemic era? A Vogue columnist takes up that very thought experiment.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one from Frank Turner to get your Tuesday rolling. It’s ‘Recovery.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
After getting their season off to a strong start against Boston, Baltimore dropped a 7-0 decision to New York on Monday night.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.