Some food pantries feeling the pinch as Pa. budget impasse persists

     Supplies are dwindling on the shelves of a food pantry in Penndel. (Bucks County Housing Group)

    Supplies are dwindling on the shelves of a food pantry in Penndel. (Bucks County Housing Group)

    As the budget stalemate in Harrisburg drags on, some food pantries in the Philadelphia area — and the families they serve — are feeling the pain.

    One pantry run by the Bucks County Housing Group in Penndel has been calling on private donors like never before.

    The pantry supplies about 250 families every week, according to spokeswoman Maddie Burgess, who oversees supplies to three pantries in Bucks. The Penndel location used to receive a monthly state allowance of $2,000, but that’s completely stopped.

    “It’s impacting kids. And a lot of our clients are elderly, so it’s impacting them,” Burgess said. “We are just about getting by at the moment, we’re scraping by to give people enough food. We’re certainly giving them less than we would normally.”

    Burgess has heard from pantries in Chester and Montgomery counties that are just as desperate right now.

    Bucks County officials have stepped up to provide some support, she said, but the budget stalemate between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled legislature still means that the pantry is digging into its reserves. And even when it does, there’s less food on the shelves than there used to be.

    “Everywhere, it’s making an impact because we’re not getting things like butter and milk,” Burgess said.

    But other food pantries such as Philabundance, which is funded mostly through private donations, are chugging along just fine. Spokeswoman Stefanie Arck-Baynes said under 1 percent of its funding is derived from government support.

    “Budget crises don’t impact our day-to-day operations,” she said.

    Some Pennsylvania lawmakers have vowed to pass a short-term funding measure to provide things like food pantries with temporary state aid. It’s expected to be in front of Wolf by the end of the month, though Wolf has vowed to veto it, calling it a gimmick.

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