Food banks still strained, Wolf administration urges US to restore compensation benefits

Photo credit Paul Kurtz/KYW Newsradio
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — On the loading dock at Philabundance’s South Philly hub, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller joined the staff in handing out boxes of surplus food to people who operate food banks throughout the region. 

The members of Gov. Tom Wolf's cabinet helped kickstart Hunger Action Month with a symbolic show of support for those agencies that have been strained to the limit during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Redding said the need for food has doubled.

“It’s been pretty steady at 500,000 a week, and a year ago it was 250,000,” he said.

Philabundance’s partner agencies are reporting a 60% increase in need across the region. 

Food banks have been able to provide with the rising need so far this summer.

“We’re benefitting from what we call the ‘garden season,’ ” said Redding, but he’s worried about the next six months. 

“You go into the fall and winter and you’re back into that pre-packaged product that’s got to come in from some other part of the country or the world,” he said, “so making sure we’re ready for that.”

Miller said Pennsylvania had more flexibility in meeting hunger needs when the federal government was more involved. 

“You had the stimulus payment, you had the unemployment compensation, so you had a lot of support,” she said. “Now I think the federal government is signaling it wants to get back to normal, and there’s nothing normal of what’s happening here.” 

The Wolf administration is calling for a 15% increase in funding for SNAP, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.