Ending Hunger

Food Assistance Programs in PA

Food and nutrition are essential to good health and overall well-being. For families, it's often a decision between food or other critical needs such as childcare, utility bills or medication. A hungry child cannot learn to their full potential. Access to health food is more important than ever to help keep vulnerable populations healthy and mitigate co-occurring health risks. If you or someone you know is in need of food assistance, the government-funded programs below are available and can help to connect you with the food resources you need.

Commonwealth Resources

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    PA Department of Human Services (DHS)
    Also known as food stamps, SNAP benefits are used to buy food and help eligible low-income households in Pennsylvania obtain more nutritious diets by increasing their food purchasing power at grocery stores and supermarkets. If you are eligible, you will receive a debit card called an ACCESS Card. You can use this card to buy food at grocery stores, supermarkets and other stores that accept them. 

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    PA Department of Human Services (DHS)
    Also referred to as cash assistance, TANF provides cash assistance to pregnant women and dependent children and their parents or relatives who live with and care for them.

  • State Food Purchase Program (SFPP)
    PA Department of Agriculture (PDA)
    Pennsylvania leads the country in providing food assistance for the needy under the SFPP. This program provides cash grants to counties for the purchase and distribution of food to low-income individuals. 

  • Disaster Feeding Operations
    Do you know the roles of organizations if/when disaster strikes? Learn more about Emergency Support Functions and Disaster feeding operations.

Additional State Resources

  • PA 211
    If you need to connect with resources in your community, but don't know where to look, PA 211 is a great place to start. The United Way offers help finding food assistance, as well as other services such as help with utilities bill, housing assistance, after-school programs for kids, and more. You can dial 211 or text your zip code to 898-211 to talk with a resource specialist for free. Our specialists will listen to your needs and give you information on programs in your community that might be able to help.
  • Food Banks
    Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania member food banks offer food assistance services in each county through a network of nearly 3,000 local charitable partners — including food pantries, soup kitchens, feeding programs, and shelters. Please contact them directly for assistance or to find out how you can help support their mission.

  • Medical Assistance (MA)
    Medical Assistance, also known as Medicaid or HealthChoices (in PA) pays for health care services for eligible individuals.

  • Unemployment Compensation Program (UC)
    The Unemployment Compensation (UC) program provides temporary income support if you lose your job through no fault of your own or if you are working less than your full-time hours. If you qualify, you will receive money for a limited time to help you meet expenses while you seek new employment.
  • PA WIC
    The Pennsylvania Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) has improved the nutrition and health of families in Pennsylvania since 1974 by providing nutrition services, breastfeeding support, health care and social service referrals, and healthy foods. Through WIC, pregnant women, mothers, and caregivers of infants and young children learn about good nutrition to keep themselves and their families healthy!

Federal Food Resources

  • Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
    The population served by CSFP is similar to that served by WICO, but CSFP also serves older Pennsylvanians and provides food packages rather than the food vouchers that WIC participants receive. Those who are eligible cannot participate in both programs at the same time. CSFP food packages do not provide a complete diet, but rather are good sources of the nutrients typically lacking in the diets of the target population. Food packages include infant formula and cereal, non-fat dry and evaporated milk, juice, oats, pasta, peanut butter, canned meat, tuna, or poultry, and canned fruits and vegetables 

  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) makes commonly consumed foods available to state distributing agencies. The state agencies then provide the food to local organizations that directly serve the public (food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, etc.). These local organizations distribute the food to eligible recipients or use them to prepare and serve meals in a congregate setting.


Federal Rescue Organizations

  • Food Recovery Network Pennsylvania
    View a list of active chapters at Pennsylvania colleges and universities
    Food Recovery Network is the largest student-led movement fighting to end food waste and hunger in America. A national network of 4,000 students, alumni, dining providers, national partners and local businesses works to recover food from campus dining halls, food vendors, restaurants, and farms which would otherwise have gone to waste, to help feed the nearly 42 million people who experienced hunger.

  • Chester County Food Bank Food Rescue
    Serving Chester County
    Chester County Food Bank Food Rescue partners with commercial businesses such as wholesalers and manufacturers to rescue food and produce. The rescued donations become available for a variety of reasons such as overproduction, mislabeling, or complications with delivery.

  • Rolling Harvest Food Rescue
    Serving Bucks and Montgomery Counties
    Since 2010, Rolling Harvest has been focused on partnering with local farmers, making it easy for them to share their fresh, healthy produce with the food-insecure communities in which they live. Dedicated volunteers help with daily pick-up and delivery schedules from 43 farms and food producers, assist with weekly distributions to more than 80 hunger relief sites, and harvest directly from partners' fields.
  • 412 Food Rescue
    Serving Greater Pittsburgh
    412 Food Rescue partners with food retailers, volunteer drivers, and nonprofit organizations to connect surplus food with individuals and families who are experiencing food insecurity. With the help of thousands of volunteers — known as Food Rescue Heroes — 412 Food Rescue is able to rescue perfectly good, but unsellable food that would otherwise be wasted and redirect it to people who need it.

  • Food Connect Group
    Serving Greater Philadelphia
    Food Connect Group's mission is to bridge the gap between surplus food and hunger. They do this by rescuing excess food from local restaurants and food vendors, and delivered it to community organizations in need.

  • Philly Food Rescue
    Serving Greater Philadelphia
    Philly Food Rescue recognized that food benefits people, not landfills. They strive to eliminate food insecurity and food waste, utilizing volunteers to rescue and redirect surplus food from businesses to nearby organizations serving the nearby communities.

  • Sharing Excess
    Serving Greater Philadelphia 
    Sharing Excess' mission is to bridge the gap between excess and food scarcity by partnering with grocery stores, restaurants, wholesalers, and farmers to deliver surplus food to a network of nonprofits, food banks, and community organizations to alleviate local food insecurity.