DILLSBURG, Pa. — At Warrington Farms in Dillsburg, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding commended Pennsylvania’s farmers who take part in the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System for their contributions of more than 4 million pounds of food to date in 2020 to Pennsylvania’s charitable food system amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“2020 has been a year of firsts for many, including Pennsylvania’s farmers. But what’s been unwavering is their commitment to community,” said Redding. “Despite their own unknowns, Pennsylvania farmers commit the fruits of their labor to those whose uncertainty lies around the dinner table.”
Warrington Farms is one of 30 Pennsylvania farms currently under contract with Feeding Pennsylvania for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act-funded Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS), which acquires surplus agricultural products from Pennsylvania producers to be funneled through the charitable food system to families in need. Feeding Pennsylvania holds the state contract to administer this traditionally state-funded program, which has been enhanced with $10 million in CARES funding to address food security in the commonwealth as Pennsylvania endures the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the CARES Act funding, Feeding Pennsylvania has acquired more than 2.4 million pounds of food from Pennsylvania farmers to date in 2020, and expects to acquire another 3 million pounds before the end of the year.
“Farmers and processors are essential to the work of our food banks and their local partner agencies,” said Jane Clements-Smith, executive director of Feeding Pennsylvania. “Thanks to their participation in the PASS program, we are able to provide fresh and nutritious Pennsylvania ag products to families facing hunger, while also reducing food waste and supporting Pennsylvania’s agriculture economy. It is truly a win-win.”
PASS reduces agricultural waste by connecting the agriculture industry with the charitable food system in all 67 Pennsylvania counties. The program was originally enacted into law in 2010 and first funded in 2015 by Governor Tom Wolf at $1 million annually. In 2017-18, the program funding was increased to $1.5 million annually.
From 2015-2019, the program sourced more than 11.3 million pounds of food that would have gone to waste and distributed it through Pennsylvania’s charitable food system. In this year alone, through September 2020, more than 1.6 million pounds of food were moved from farmers to families in need with state dollars. This is in addition to the 2.4 million pounds of product that have been secured to date using CARES funds. In total for 2020, the 4 million pounds of local product have been distributed to all 67 counties through the 13 partners that are members of the Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania networks of food banks.
Thanks to state PASS dollars, over the past five years the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, a Feeding Pennsylvania partner, has been able to source more than 300 animals from 4-H and FFA youth livestock auctions at agricultural fairs in central Pennsylvania to be processed by Warrington Farms.
For more information about food security and resources for Pennsylvanians in need, visit agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity.
For information as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania
visit agriculture.pa.gov/COVID. For the most accurate, timely information related to Health in Pennsylvania, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.
–Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture