I would like to thank the Post-Gazette for grasping the reality of the rise in need for food assistance in our region especially since Nov. 1, when many families saw their public benefits for food decrease just at the time their heating bills would be rising. The front-page story “Food Banks Struggle This Holiday” (Dec. 11) could not help but grab the attention of your readers.
The fact that the story also provided a very concrete way for readers to respond will help ensure food for families that are served by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Westmoreland County Food Bank and their network of pantries and soup kitchens this winter. Thank you to the Pittsburgh Foundation and its donors who have afforded us this matching gift opportunity to double the impact of our giving this month by going to www.pittsburghgives.org and making a donation.
There is another important step that people can take that can have a more long-term impact on families in need now and in the coming 10 years: to contact their congressmen, who will soon be asked to vote on the renewal of the farm bill that includes funding for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Ask them to protect this program and increase it, if possible, so that so many Americans will not need to rely on charity through food banks. While food banks can help families make it to the end of the month in some cases, it is not as steady and reliable as SNAP has proved to be. Our charity is not able to replace good public policy and the food assistance programs they ensure.
Calls can be made through a toll-free number provided by Feeding America that will connect you to your U.S. senators and representative: 1-888-398-8702. Ask each of them to vote against any cuts to SNAP and to do what our tax dollars are intended to do: provide for the common good, especially to make sure all our people are food secure.
Taking these steps would be among the most valuable gifts you can give this holiday season.
Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership