How Pennsylvania Fights Food Insecurity

How can you be healthy if you don’t get enough nutritious food to eat?

Unfortunately,  research by Map the Meal Gap shows that, in Pennsylvania, roughly one in eight adults and one in six children struggle to be able to afford enough food. Fortunately, we have public programs and hospitals that are working to solve this problem.

How SNAP fights food insecurity

The federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, (or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is the largest program in our safety net against hunger. SNAP helps people and families with low incomes stretch food budgets and buy healthy food.

Each month, Pennsylvanians who are receiving help from SNAP get their benefits on EBT (electronic benefits transfer) cards. These work like debit cards. They allow households to buy foods such as breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, and dairy products. Alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and other nonfood items cannot be purchased with EBT cards.

Hospitals are in the fight too!

Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems witness the consequences of hunger and food insecurity every day, in the health of their patients, families, and communities. Hospitals are experimenting and innovating, seeking sustainable ways to address this problem through:

  • Food “farmacies” where patients who are food insecure and diabetic can visit onsite markets where food is healthy, nutritious, and free
  • Giving patients food coupons for purchasing fruits and vegetables
  • Using “food as medicine” through healthy meal deliveries
  • Hosting onsite farmers’ markets and arranging “farm to families” produce deliveries
  • Creating hospital-based farms and gardens

Learn more about seven possible solutions to food insecurity that Pennsylvania hospitals are working on.