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An Examination of Emergency Food Supply and Distribution in Rural Pennsylvania

June 25, 2024  | Health Care and Human Services

According to Feeding America, over 10 percent of Pennsylvanians are food insecure, meaning they lack access to adequate and affordable food. The emergency food network aims to reduce food insecurity by helping individuals and households better meet their food needs. This network consists of food banks and their local partner agencies (e.g., food pantries, soup kitchens) that, together, collect and distribute food to people in need. Emergency food organizations are non-governmental, but they rely on support from both the federal and state governments. Two federally funded, state-administered programs—The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Senior Food Box Program—and two state-funded and run programs—the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS)—provide significant food and funding to food banks. These collaborations allow both the government and network to provide more comprehensive food assistance than either could provide alone. The emergency food network is complex, and there is a need to consider gaps in the network that can leave both people and places either unserved or underserved. This study examines the strengths and challenges faced by the emergency food network in meeting the food needs of Pennsylvania residents, particularly those in rural areas.

Executive Summary

Tags:  emergency food system , food assistance programs , food banks , food pantries , food insecurity

Introducing the Center's new journal, Rural Policy: The Research Bulletin of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.