Good for Pennsylvania cities and Pennsylvania farmers
Over the years I have been an advocate for making fresh food more easily accessible to city residents. I helped provide a grant to The Food Trust to bring a farmers’ market to Grays Ferry as well as community gardens at Broad and South and at 25th and Spruce Streets. Because of my interest, I have served as a member of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. I am committed to creating sustainable food options for residents of Philadelphia and all urban areas across the entire state.
Agriculture is Pennsylvania’s largest industry; it brings in billions and billions of dollars every year. Helping farmers market their product to urban dwellers is an important way to bring city folks and farmers together and to work across party lines for the benefit of all in the Commonwealth.
In Philadelphia, as elsewhere, there is a need to combat food scarcity issues for low-income families. Right now there are over 8,000 low-income families who live more than a mile from a grocery store and do not have easy access to any type of food supply. This number will continue to grow if steps are not taken to ensure that these areas will not be left behind. The Corbett Administration’s latest attack against the poor involves food stamps (now known as SNAP). His administration added an ASSETS test to the means (income) test already required. That means people who own an old car to get to work or the crumbling house in which they live, might not qualify and might have to go hungry. That is a shameful outcome in a state where farmers and grocery stores can’t meet their bottom lines unless they sell some commodities through the state.
State programs for food, like many other state programs, are in a constant battle to maintain their funding sources against the Corbett ax. The State Food Purchase Program (SFPP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) both programs serve the Philadelphia region; they focus on bringing alternative food options to low-income families or elderly citizens. Programs like these should not only maintain their current levels of funding but in fact should see an increase in state support.
Educating citizens on the importance of buying locally is a major initiative of mine. City dwellers more and more want to buy fresh, nutritious, local crops. Consumers understand that this not only helps the region’s economy but is also a more environmentally sustainable option that importing food from other areas. Locally grown food is also a healthier option to traditional fast food establishments. I’m encouraging services that show homemakers and children that local food ought to become a larger part of a family’s food budget.