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PA Food Banks Get Cash to Improve Cold Storage Capability

by Emily Scott, Keystone State News Connection

PA Food Banks Get Cash to Improve Cold Storage Capability

Food banks in Pennsylvania have been a lifeline to families during the pandemic. Now, state officials are using an influx of federal dollars to help food banks build up their infrastructure to serve more people.

Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Reading, speaking at Mary’s Shelter in Reading Thursday, announced $11.4 million American Rescue Plan dollars are being made available for the COVID-19 Food Bank Cold Storage Infrastructure Program, to support groups fighting hunger to purchase freezers, coolers, and more.

Schwank said it will allow food pantries to offer perishable items and help eliminate food waste.

“We’ve learned where our weaknesses are in addressing hunger,” Schwank explained. “We know now that we could do better in making sure that people not only have food to eat, but more importantly, healthy, nutritious food – and available to them in a way that’s easy for them to access.”

An estimated 1.5 million Pennsylvanians are experiencing food insecurity. The grant program will fund upgrades at 18 food banks, serving all 67 counties in Pennsylvania.

During the pandemic, food banks faced their own problems, from supply-chain interruptions to staff shortages and transportation obstacles.

Frances Wolf, Pennsylvania’s first lady, pointed out despite those challenges, they were able to persevere, and have distributed almost 400 million pounds of food since March 2020.

“Increasing cold storage capacity will strengthen our charitable food network in so many ways,” Wolf stated. “It will allow food banks to create more mobile pantry options, ones that can meet people where they are, and break down the transportation barrier that so many Pennsylvanians have.”

The grant program will work in tandem with the Agricultural Surplus Program, which distributes fresh produce grown on local farms to more than 2,700 food pantries, soup kitchens, feeding programs and shelters across the Commonwealth.