Program connects farmers to food banks

NEWVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture celebrates a milestone in its program to connect farmers with food banks.

Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) program added almost four million pounds of farm-fresh foods to Pennsylvania’s food banks. 

One out of every seven Pennsylvanians and approximately 500,000 children are at risk of hunger.

Mike Smith, Executive Deputy Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, says, “We know we live in an agriculturally rich and abundant state. We also live in a state that’s fortunate to have a tremendous network of emergency food survivors. We’re bringing those two together.”

Local food banks say farmers are filling shelves with products they struggle to find.

Erin Smith Wachter, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, says, “We try to source the most fresh, local, healthy product, including produce, milk, protein into our food bank system because that’s really important for nutrition.”

Brandon Weary, a farmer at Maystone Acres in Newville, contributed four truck-loads of surplus milk. He says dairy farmers are producing more milk than the country can drink.

Weary says, “This has been tough economic times for us, so when you do things like this it makes you feel really good, and you know you should be doing what you’re doing.”

The state has contributed $1 million per year to the PASS program. Collaborators are still waiting for the budget this year, hoping to reach more farmers and generate more food in 2018.

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