The Lead

Pa. food banks to receive $11.4M allocation to expand storage infrastructure

By: - December 9, 2021 12:54 pm

Many Americans who lost their jobs when the coronavirus pandemic began sought donated food(Image via Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images/The Conversation).

With an $11.4 million allocation from federal relief funds, Pennsylvania food banks can expand their infrastructure to address food insecurity and waste across the state.

The COVID-19 Food Bank Cold Storage Infrastructure Program, announced Thursday by the Wolf administration and legislative Democrats, aims to help anti-hunger advocates at 18 state food banks to purchase and upgrade storage facilities to enhance and improve delivery services in all 67 counties.

Funded by the $370 million in American Rescue Plan dollars allocated to Gov. Tom Wolf for “pandemic response” earlier this year, the grant program permits purchasing refrigerators, coolers, freezers, trailers, cargo vans, and building expansions. The initiative builds on the 2019 Food Recovery Infrastructure Grant Program to address cold storage needs and food waste problems in the state.

“Feeding more Pennsylvania families requires increasing capacity for transportation, refrigeration, and measures to ensure that food is safe,” state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a statement. “These investments help Pennsylvania agriculture continue to grow, feed our economy, and strengthen the charitable food system across the commonwealth.”

Feeding America, a national nonprofit devoted to supporting anti-hunger initiatives, estimates that 1.3 million people in Pennsylvania, including 380,000 children, struggle with food insecurity. As businesses and schools closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hunger became a more visible issue, with long lines at food distribution sites and an increased need for donations.

House and Senate Democrats and First Lady Frances Wolf joined anti-hunger advocates at food banks and shelters across the state Thursday to announce the grant program, saying the investment will further address community needs and food insecurity.

At the Allison Park office of North Hills Community Outreach, a community and faith-based organization in Allegheny County, Executive Director Tom Baker said the funds will help get “more nutritious, high-value food to the people we serve.”

Over the past fiscal year, North Hills Community Outreach has served food and provided emergency services to more than 2,000 families across 50 communities. 

“The charitable food network is beyond grateful for this investment in our food banks and our partner agencies like Mary’s Shelter to increase our capacity to store and transport fresh and frozen food,” Jane Clements, chief executive officer of Feeding Pennsylvania, told reporters in Reading.

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