The Food Bank strives to make advocacy an integral part of what we do to meet our mission. Stakeholders of the Food Bank represent a broad cross-section of the political spectrum. The Food Bank does not support one candidate over another candidate, and does not support any political parties. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is diligent in assuring that the activities of the organization are strictly nonpartisan.
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank seeks alignment with Feeding America on federal policy priorities and with Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania on state policy priorities.
2017 Policy Priorities
1. Ensure the Next Farm Bill Reduces Hunger
What is the Farm Bill?
The Farm Bill is a comprehensive set of laws that looks at everything from crop insurance for farmers to nutrition assistance programs for low-income families. It includes many sections, called titles, including one on nutrition which makes up nearly 80% of the spending included in the bill. Every five years the Farm Bill expires and is updated and reauthorized. The current bill, The Agricultural Act of 2014, was signed into law on February 7th, 2014 and must be reauthorized by October 2018.
Farm Bill Policy Priorities
• Ensure the nutrition title does not get separated from the other titles in the bill
• Protect SNAP from harmful policy proposals
• Increase funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
• Strengthen food donation policies
• Identify funding for agriculture and food industry donation partnerships
2. Protect and Strengthen Federal Nutrition Programs
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Formerly Food Stamps)
What is SNAP?
Formerly known as Food Stamps, SNAP helps to put food on the table for more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians each month by providing money on an EBT card (similar to a debit card) for the purchase of food. In the Food Bank’s 11-county service area, more than 332,000 individuals received SNAP benefits in November 2016.
SNAP Policy Priorities
The Food Bank will work to protect SNAP from funding cuts and harmful policy changes such as block granting, and to improve SNAP benefit adequacy. Unfortunately, SNAP benefits are inadequate for most families to purchase enough food to provide a healthy diet throughout the month. Many SNAP participants use emergency food as a supplement due to the fact that their benefits do not last the entire month.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
What is TEFAP?
TEFAP provides nutritious food to food banks which, in partnership with local pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters, provide the food to low-income Americans in need of short-term hunger relief. Food acquired with appropriated funds for this program are in addition to any ‘bonus’ foods purchased by USDA to support agriculture markets when they are not doing well.
TEFAP Policy Priorities
• Obtain $100 million for TEFAP Storage and Distribution Funds (providing funds to help pay for storage and distribution of the commodities provided by the government). The most recent Farm Bill authorized $100 million for these funds, but Congress and the President have been consistently appropriating only half the amount authorized.
• Provide full funding for Section 32 so that USDA can provide market support through bonus commodities for TEFAP when prices are low.
• Encourage the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to apply bonus TEFAP purchase criteria as generously as possible and make specialty crop purchases for TEFAP to increase the availability of TEFAP commodities.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
What is CSFP?
Commonly referred to as senior boxes, CSFP leverages government buying power to provide nutritious food packages each month to nearly 600,000 low-income seniors with incomes below 130% of the Federal Poverty Line ($15,544 for a senior citizen living alone). The Food Bank manages the program in six counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Greene, Lawrence, and Somerset. 9,145 seniors receive CSFP boxes in the Food Bank’s 11-county service area. The caseload for Pennsylvania includes 34,619 seniors; nearly 311,000 Pennsylvania seniors are income eligible for the program.
CSFP Policy Priorities
The Food Bank will support efforts to provide sufficient funding for CSFP to maintain current program caseloads.
Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG)
What is CDBG?
The CDBG program works to ensure decent affordable housing, to provide services to the most vulnerable in our communities, and to create jobs through the expansion and retention of businesses. It is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. The program provides annual grants on a formula basis to local governments and states. While the funding flows from the federal government, the ultimate decision regarding the allocation of these funds to the Food Bank rests with Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh governments.
CDBG Policy Priorities
Federal funding for CDBG has been on the decline over the past several years, which has ultimately affected the Food Bank’s allocation from county and city governments. The Food Bank will work to protect CDBG funding at the federal level and continue to advocate for a strong commitment of funds from Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh governments.
Child Nutrition Programs
What are child nutrition programs?
Federal child nutrition programs include the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). These programs help provide nutritious food to low-income children from the first day they are born and are available in school, after school, and during the summer months.
Child Nutrition Program Policy Priorities
While federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation for these programs will not likely be pursued in 2017, we will urge Congress to protect the funding and structure of child nutrition programs in annual budget and spending legislation. We also will work with the USDA to ensure regulations on child nutrition programs will protect access to these vital programs for the millions of children that rely on them for nutritious food.
3. Federal and State Tax Policy
The Food Bank will actively monitor and act to protect existing tax deductions and credit for donations of food and funds to charitable food assistance organizations and to encourage continuation of the exclusion of food from the state sales tax.
Tax Policy Priorities
• Protect and strengthen federal charitable giving tax incentives and reject a cap on the charitable giving tax deduction in deficit reduction or comprehensive tax reform
• Protect and strengthen federal food donation tax incentives
• Protect and strengthen tax credits for working families like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit
• Protect the structure/funding for the PA Neighborhood Assistance Program Charitable Food Program tax credits and advocate for increased funding
• Reject extension of the state sales tax to food
4. Advocate with Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania for Increased Funding for State Nutrition Programs
State Food Purchase Program (SFPP)
What is SFPP?
SFPP provides essential funding to all 67 counties to support the purchase and distribution of nutritious food and to provide enhanced access to surplus federal food commodities. It is the Commonwealth’s most significant contribution to the effort of Pennsylvania’s food banks, food pantries and other providers of nutritional assistance to acquire and distribute food to Pennsylvanians with low-incomes.
SFPP Policy Priorities
The Food Bank will support the effort to obtain an appropriation of $21 million for SFPP in the 2017-2018 Pennsylvania State Budget.
Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS)
What is PASS?
PASS helps charitable food providers secure a variety of surplus agricultural products produced in Pennsylvania, creating additional supply to feed those who are at risk of hunger and providing an alternative market for many farmers in the commonwealth who currently have no outlet for safe, but lower-graded product.
PASS Policy Priorities
The Food Bank will support the effort to obtain an appropriation of $5 million for PASS in the 2017-2018 Pennsylvania State Budget.