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Northern PA food bank sees increased demand from local residents and refugees

Carts full of food for the Second Harvest Food Bank.
Natalie Massing
Second Harvest Food Bank
The Second Harvest Food Bank serves 11 counties in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Friday is National Food Bank Day and the start of Hunger Action Month, and many people are struggling to get food on the table because of the rising cost of food and a reduction in SNAP benefits.

Expanded SNAP benefits from the COVID-19 pandemic ended in February. Since then, Second Harvest Food Bank has seen a 39% increase in users. That’s according to Natalie Massing, the marketing and media coordinator.

Second Harvest Food Bank is based in Erie, but serves 11 counties, including Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, McKean and Warren counties.

Massing said inflation is also making it harder to afford food.

“As we all know, when we walk into a grocery store, how expensive it is to get the food that you need to put on your table,” Massing said.

Massing said they’ve had to buy more food to cover the demand.

“We also are seeing many new clients who are refugees, immigrants, those that need our help,” Massing said.

Second Harvest Food Bank now has its website available in ten languages to help serve refugees.

Anyone experiencing food insecurity can dial 211 to get help from a resource navigator. PA 211 helps connect Pennsylvanians to different resources, including food, housing, and transportation.

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.