Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary and representatives from the departments of Health, Aging, and Education Thursday visited Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania to highlight Hunger Action Month and the importance of food assistance programs.

In Erie County, nearly 39,000 people experience food insecurity. Almost 12,000 are children under the age of 18. They are among approximately 1.53 million Pennsylvanians who experience chronic hunger and food insecurity daily.

In an effort to address the problem, Second Harvest works with food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, Produce Express mobile distributions, Military Share – a Produce Express program, school pantries, backpack programs and senior box distribution sites to provide food to people in need.

Second Harvest is the largest food bank in northwest Pennsylvania. It provides food to 399 member agencies and distribution partners in 11 counties. In 2018, Second Harvest distributed 9.6 million meals.

In addition to charitable food networks, the Department of Human Services said programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) help working adults, people with disabilities, older adults, and children access food.

“SNAP is not just the nation’s most important anti-hunger program – it helps support local farmers and small businesses and grow economies around the country. If proposed federal changes to the SNAP program take effect, the impacts will be felt well beyond just SNAP recipients,” said Secretary Miller. “Food assistance is a simple investment in the public good for all of us."