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Pennsylvania issues $2 million to food banks

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(The Center Square) – Dozens of food banks, soup kitchens, and other emergency food groups are set to receive grants from the Department of Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced Friday that more than $2 million will go to 57 groups for “fighting hunger and food insecurity and increasing access to healthy food for Pennsylvanians, wherever they live,” according to a press release.

“Pennsylvania enjoys an incredible bounty of natural resources and generous communities willing to help feed those in need,” Redding said. “Expanding the capacity of community organizations to supply fresh, healthy food to families in need is a key element of Shapiro Administration’s strategy to invest in a healthier, more secure Pennsylvania.”

The disbursements are the second round following $1.6 million of assistance announced last fall.

The money also comes at a time when persistent inflation, though below its peak, continues to drive up prices. One report found that Pennsylvania grocery store prices have increased more than any other state. Rural areas and low-income ZIP codes have seen above-average growth, too.

Of the 57 grants, 30 are about $50,000. The Department of Agriculture highlighted Schuylkill Community Action’s $50,000 grant for a mobile food pantry for Latino and rural residents.

SCA’s Executive Director Dave Young called the grant “a game-changer for our community.”

“With the new box truck, we can extend our reach to rural and remote areas, ensuring that no one in Schuylkill County, including our growing Latinx community, has to struggle with food insecurity due to transportation barriers,” Young said. “This initiative is crucial for bridging the gap in access to nutritious food and improving the well-being of all our residents.”

Thirty-two counties will receive awards, along with two regional grants that cover Bucks, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties; and Luzerne and Wyoming counties, respectively.

Food aid also comes from federal sources. In summer 2023, the federal government sent $42 million to Pennsylvania to offset rising prices of school meals.

Inflation peaked in the Philadelphia area in June 2022 at 8.8 percent and hit 4.1 percent in April 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest rate since April 2023.