PITTSBURGH, June 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding today joined the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to recognize Hunger Awareness Day and urge the public to make donations to hard-pressed food banks across the state.
Redding said June is considered a "hunger gap" month because students lose access to school-provided breakfast and lunch meals and the summer and fall harvest is not yet underway.
"More than 1.4 million Pennsylvanians are at-risk for hunger and it is unacceptable that in a state with an almost year-round harvest, there are citizens who wake up in the morning not knowing how they will secure the food they need," said Redding. "I encourage all Pennsylvanians to help their neighbors by donating food, money or their time to one of the state's emergency food assistance agencies to help ensure no one has to make difficult decisions when buying food for their families, or worse – go without.
"I thank emergency food assistance professionals and volunteers for their tireless efforts, and applaud Pennsylvania's farmers for their continued diligence in combating hunger, because there cannot be a charitable food system without a food system that is charitable."
Redding was recognized at the Hunger Awareness Day Luncheon, along with other dedicated individuals and companies, for his commitment to ending hunger in Pennsylvania.
Also recognized at the luncheon were: Dr. Susan M. Kapusta, president of the U.S. Steel Foundation; Steve Zupcic, University of Pittsburgh Partnership for Food; 91.3 WYEP FM; Rachel Rothenberg; The Pampered Chef; and Clara Henry and Duane and Ruth Ann Montgomery, the "Three Musketeers" of food bank volunteers.
Following an awards luncheon, Redding joined Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank CEO Joyce Rothermel and volunteers to distribute Community Supplemental Food Program, or CSFP, boxes at the St. Vincent de Paul Center in Pittsburgh's North Side.
The Department of Agriculture administers the supplemental food program, which provides food including canned fruits and vegetables, non-fat dry and evaporated milk, juice, pasta, oats, peanut butter, poultry, canned meats and more, mostly to senior citizens and those eligible for, but not served by, the Women, Infants and Children Program.
Pennsylvania recently expanded the CSFP program to each county and now covers more than 32,000 residents – the nation's fourth-largest caseload of CSFP recipients. Prior to the expansion, the program was only able to provide food to residents of 31 counties.
"Many of our neighbors who are at-risk for hunger are older adults living on a fixed income," said Redding. "The expanded funding for our Commodity Supplemental Food Program allows us to provide an additional 18,000 citizens with the proper nutrition that they need to remain healthy."
The commonwealth continues to work aggressively to help those at-risk for hunger. Earlier this year, it distributed more than $2.7 million of cheddar and mozzarella cheese to local food pantries and food banks. The cheese distribution helped those in need, as well as the state's dairy industry, which is the largest sector of Pennsylvania's agriculture economy.
For more information about the CSFP and other state efforts to combat hunger, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search "Food Distribution."
Media contact: Nicole L. C. Bucher, 717-787-5085
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture