HARRISBURG – The first meeting of the legislative Hunger Caucus highlighted the scope of food insecurity issues in Pennsylvania, according to Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-36).
“The number one priority of this group is to educate members of the General Assembly on hunger issues facing our communities,” Brubaker said. “Once we educate our colleagues about the food insecurity issues threatening so many of the families we represent, I strongly believe that inaction will not be an option.”
Department of Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff testified that more than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians, or nearly 1 in 10 state residents, were at risk for food insecurity. Wolff said that he believed state food banks offered sufficient infrastructure to provide food to needy Pennsylvanians, but Central Pennsylvania Food Bank Executive Director Kendall Hanna testified that additional funding would be needed to address the growing number of Pennsylvanians who rely on food banks.
Wolff and Hanna urged legislators to support an increase in funding for the State Food Purchase Program, and they also urged the General Assembly to pass a resolution urging Congress to include additional funding for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other programs to combat hunger in the federal economic stimulus package.
Brubaker proposed to hold two meetings of the Hunger Caucus per year to examine food insecurity issues and receive additional information on the needs and progress of programs to address hunger. He also announced that the Hunger Caucus website would be launched on Tuesday to provide information on resources available to help Pennsylvanians in need.
Brubaker co-chairs the Hunger Caucus with Rep. John Myers (D-201). Other Hunger Caucus members in attendance included Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20), Sen. John Eichelberger (R-30), Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17), Rep. Dom Costa (D-21), Rep. Babette Josephs (D-182), Rep. Michael O’Brien (D-175) and Rep. John Siptroth (D-189).