Second Harvest Programs
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 | Cooking Matters | SNAP | SUNShine Boxes | SFPP | TEFAP
Back Pack Buddies
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 300 children each week at nine locations in Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton school districts.
Cooking Matters is a nutrition education and cooking program that teaches low-income families how to cook healthy meals on a budget. The program consists of a six week course of weekly, hands-on classes that are led by experienced chefs and nutrition professionals. Weekly classes vary in topic from the basics of healthy cooking and tips for shopping smart to food ideas and recipes for staying active. Cooking Matters aims to empower kids, teens, adults and families with skills and confidence to sustain healthier lives. Classes of between ten and fifteen participants are currently being planned to serve 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. Second Harvest offers this program in partnership with Share Our Strength.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Outreach (Food Stamps)
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 1,865 individuals each month. In 2009, the Food Bank distributed 535,892 pounds of food through this program. We rely on a dedicated group of volunteers to pack the SUNShine boxes each month.
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 amount of money that is distributed to each county is determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) based on poverty indicators for that area.
Currently, Second Harvest receives approximately $800,000 to administer SFPP in Lehigh and Northampton County. Last year, we distributed 1,052,127 pounds of food through this program. 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 can not 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 1,153,813 pounds of food through this program.
**The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD).
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.