Second Harvest Food Bank administers a number of programs to further our mission of aiding those individuals at-risk for hunger in our six-county service area.
Backpack Buddies is a kid-friendly supplemental nutrition program administered by the Second Harvest member agencies that have after-school programs. Staff members at each of the locations identify children who are currently enrolled in their programs and are in need of food assistance. These low-income children eat their meals at school through government subsidized breakfast and lunch programs. For them, weekends and holidays can mean going hungry. Even moderate malnutrition can have long-lasting effects on children’s growth and ability to learn.
Once identified, these children receive a weekly backpack of kid-friendly food to supplement their meals from Friday night until they return to school on Monday morning. Each backpack contains cereal, peanut butter, canned vegetables and fruit, soup, macaroni and cheese, canned one-dish meals, and healthy snacks.
Currently, Second Harvest is providing backpacks for more than 500 children each week at 12 locations across our service area.
Cooking Matters is a six-week cooking and nutrition education program that aims to empower low-income families to shop for and prepare healthy, delicious meals on a budget. Each course is team-taught by a volunteer chef and nutrition educator with the support of a classroom manager. Courses consist of weekly, 2-hour classes that cover meal preparation, food budgeting, grocery shopping, and nutrition. Cooking Matters offers a courses for a variety of audiences, including Kids, Teens, Adults, and Families.
Cooking Matters courses are currently offered on an ongoing basis at community organizations and Second Harvest member agencies throughout Carbon, Lehigh, and Northampton counties.
Cooking Matters is a program of Share Our Strength, a national anti-hunger organization that aspires to end hunger and poverty in the United States with the primary goal of ending childhood hunger with its No Kid Hungry Campaign. Second Harvest offers this program in partnership with Share Our Strength.
Cooking Matters at the Store
Cooking Matters at the Store is a one-time, interactive grocery store tour that provides low-income families with hands-on education as they shop for food, giving them skills to compare foods for cost and nutrition. Participants learn how to plan and budget for healthy, affordable, and delicious meals for their families and receive a $10 gift card to practice using the topics discussed on the tour. Cooking Matters at the Store tours are offered for between 6 and 8 participants and can be offered in all counties served by Second Harvest.
Fill A Glass with Hope
Fill A Glass with Hope is Pennsylvania’s First Statewide Charitable Fresh Milk Program. This partnership, formed among Feeding Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association, Mid-Atlantic Dairy, agriculture partners, and business leaders, provides fresh milk to Pennsylvania families in need through Feeding Pennsylvania’s network of Food Banks, of which Second Harvest is a member.
Second Harvest is a licensed milk sub-dealer and provides deeply discounted quarts and half-gallons of fresh milk from Pennsylvania dairy farms to its member agencies for distribution to area families in need.
Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS)
During the 2015-16 program year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture rolled out a new program aimed at putting healthy and fresh food grown or raised by Pennsylvania farmers and producers on the plates of those who typically can’t afford it. The inaugural year of the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System (PASS) was a success for all partners involved, from our local family farmers to the families we serve who are struggling to make ends meet.
Through PASS, the PA Department of Agriculture provides the funds to cover the costs associated with harvesting, processing, packaging, and transporting surplus products including fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy, poultry, pork, beef, and grains in an effort to ensure these items end up on the shelves of food banks instead of in landfills or left unharvested in the fields.
Since June of 2016, we have been able to provide our member agencies with apples, peaches, pears, melons, corn, onions, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, eggs, milk, applesauce, tomato sauce, ground chicken and beef, for a total of 112,704 pounds.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Outreach
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called Food Stamps) helps low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health. SNAP benefits come in the form of a debit card that can be used to buy food at most grocery stores, and even some farmers’ markets. During the past year, Pennsylvania increased the income allowances for families, seniors and the disabled to qualify for SNAP from 130% of poverty to 160%.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that up to one-third of those eligible for SNAP are not receiving benefits. To help more people apply for SNAP benefits, Second Harvest Food Bank operates a “Food Stamps Over the Phone” outreach service. Anyone in our service area can call this toll free hotline to find out if they are eligible for and to actually apply for SNAP Benefits. That toll free phone number is 1-866-203-3323. The Food Bank also works to increase awareness about SNAP through outreach at local food pantries, community fairs, health bureaus, and farmers’ markets.
SUNShine Boxes (Serving UnderNourished Seniors)
SUNShine Boxes are Second Harvest Food Bank’s distribution of food through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), a federally-funded program that is designed to improve the health and nutrition of low-income senior citizens, post-partum mothers, and children. A supply of staple foods, provided by the USDA, are packed into boxes and distributed once a month to registered participants. The boxes contain cereal, juice, canned vegetables and fruit, evaporated milk, pasta, peanut butter, protein (beef, chicken, or tuna), and cheese.
Currently, Second Harvest serves 2,475 individuals each month. We rely on a dedicated group of volunteers to pack the SUNShine boxes each month. Open registration for the SUNShine Box program will begin on March 1, 2018. For more information or to register, contact Janet Meyer at 484-287-4015.
State Food Purchase Program (SFPP)
The State Food Purchase Program allocates cash grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to purchase food from brokers at reduced prices and distribute it to low-income people. This program allows us to purchase and distribute more nutritious food than what may have been donated to the Food Bank. The level of funds that is distributed to each county is determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) based on poverty indicators for that area.
Last year, we distributed 1,253,817 pounds of food through this program in Lehigh and Northampton counties. The four remaining counties in our service area receive their SFPP funding through other organizations.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
The Emergency Food Assistance Program provides federal commodities for individuals at-risk for hunger based on poverty indicators for each county. Second Harvest receives the food and distributes it to the member agencies in that county that are strictly Emergency Food Providers. These agencies serve the most food-insecure populations – those people who cannot be sure when or from where their next meal is coming. Second Harvest administers TEFAP to Lehigh, Northampton, and Carbon counties. Last year, the Food Bank distributed 653,246 pounds of food through this program.