The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


November 21, 2012

Readers' Forum 11-21 | Food purchase program vital to needy

JOHNSTOWN — For hungry Pennsylvanians, Thanksgiving is hardly a time for cheer or celebration. It’s simply another day in the yearlong struggle to put healthy food on the table. And across the state, the number of families seeking food assistance is on the rise.

More than 1.36 million Pennsylvanians now qualify for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), including thousands in our own county. Few may actually know about SFPP, but at times like these, they can certainly appreciate its value.

For more than two decades, SFPP has been among our most significant tools in the fight against hunger, making it possible for food banks to acquire and distribute millions of pounds of nutritious food to feed needy children, senior citizens, people with disabilities, the working poor, and the underemployed and unemployed Pennsylvanians.

Unfortunately, state funding hasn’t kept pace with rising demand. Since the 2006-07 fiscal year, funding for the program has dropped 7.5 percent while the SFPP eligibility has increased 42.9 percent. We’re grateful for private donors and corporate partners, but their contributions can’t cover the growing state shortfall.

It is a difficult trend for food banks to manage. It’s even harder for those in need.

It used to be that holidays were our busiest times of year. Now, every day is a holiday, and that’s not a good thing.

Fighting hunger is a year-round battle, and food banks are a special refuge for those in need. But without SFPP, many of our most vulnerable residents simply wouldn’t be able to put food on the table  – not at Thanksgiving, not any day.

Sonny Consiglio

Executive director, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Food For Families, Johnstown

We must move forward as a nation

“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democrat answer, but the answer. Let us not seek to fix blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future” (J.F.K.). This was never about Democrat or Republic, black or white, left or right, but what is best for our country.

Competence and morality is always the issue, which has been ignored. Have we struggled this far as a nation to throw away the accomplishments of the past? We cannot forget our past nor can we ignore the future or the present. If we are to move forward we must do it as a nation. We must hold all elected officials accountable to the people they serve.

Dates that live in infamy Sept. 2, 1941; Sept. 11, 2001; Nov. 4, 2008; and Nov. 6, 2012.

Ron Marol


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