Breaking News
More () »

Food banks struggling to meet community demands amidst fewer donations

September is Hunger Action Month and food banks across central Pennsylvania hope for a rise in food donations as more awareness is generated.

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — Food insecurity continues to impact thousands of people across south-central Pennsylvania as food banks struggle to keep up with the demand.

For volunteers like Bill Jamison, it’s become more difficult to supply people with basic necessities when not enough donations are brought in.

“We can’t work without people donating,” Jamison said.

Jamison is also the director of the Allison Hills Community Ministry in Harrisburg. He has provided food to the community for over fifteen years. He says more people need food now compared to a few years ago.

“We now serve, on a Tuesday, 130 families whereas two years ago we served 60 or 70 families,” Jamison noted.

According to data from Feeding America, 1.2 million Pennsylvanians struggle with food insecurity yearly. Over 300,000 of those are children. 25,000 people (including children) are affected in Harrisburg.

Erin Haafke with Feeding Pennsylvania says food insecurity occurs for multiple reasons, such as cost, depending on the size of a family.

“A lot of the times it is people not being able to access the food that they need to live their life in a full active, healthy way,” Haafke said.

The Broad Street Market fire in July 2023 severely impacted Harrisburg residents, as many no longer had access to fresh food. Other factors like inflation have caused food donations to decrease because of the high cost of groceries.

“With the increase in numbers and the number of people we’re serving and a lack of response from the state in terms of getting their budgets done, we find ourselves in a position where we’re begging for food,” Jamison said.

Haafke hopes with September being Hunger Action Month, food banks will experience more food donations as more awareness is generated. However, the issue of food insecurity extends past September.

“We have that month every year, we’ve had it since 2008 to highlight how large of an issue this is not only in Pennsylvania but across the country,” Haafke said.

On Thursday, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services along with the Department of Agriculture met to highlight the need for food assistance programs. Key speakers, such as Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams, also commented on why it’s important for communities to come together and assist those struggling with food insecurity.

Download the Fox43 app.

Before You Leave, Check This Out