Kinkead rebukes Sen. Martin for dismissing food insecurity

Condemns statement as callous to hungry Pennsylvanians

HARRISBURG, March 28 – In response to a column by state Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster/Berks, suggesting that food programs such as SNAP and free school breakfast be defunded in the state budget, state Rep. Emily Kinkead issued the following statement:

“Senator Martin’s statement indicating that SNAP increases and free school breakfast programs are not ‘necessary’ enough to include in the state budget is a clear signal that he is astonishingly out of touch with the struggles of working Pennsylvanians. Workers saw the cost of food rise 10.6% between November 2021 and November 2022, and food prices are expected to increase another 4.3% this year. The fact that federal funding recently expired for these programs does not change the circumstances that workers and their families are facing or the prices they are paying at the grocery store. These programs are needed now, perhaps more than ever.

“Some aspects of life – like going back to the office – are returning to normal relative to the pandemic. However, the cost of necessities is not one of those things, as inflation continues to climb. With the minimum wage still at $7.25 an hour, many workers who have not received a raise that corresponds with the increased cost of living are left wondering where their next meal will come from. These expired federal pandemic programs were helping workers get their next meal, but now we are telling people to rely not on the proper spending of their tax dollars but on the over-extended charitable food network, which is also feeling the strain of soaring food prices. The truth is that in this Commonwealth, we have the resources and the responsibility to continue helping Pennsylvanians with our state budget.

“As a public servant, and as Pennsylvania faces a 'hunger cliff,' I am ashamed that this type of ‘let them eat cake’ response would come from any member of the General Assembly, but I am deeply ashamed to hear it from the majority chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee – one of the committees directly tasked with appropriating Pennsylvania tax dollars to help Pennsylvanians. I find his distaste for a free school breakfast program – which would reduce child hunger and improve outcomes for public schools – particularly troubling. Children can’t pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Should they start eating their shoes? 

"I maintain that feeding our most vulnerable residents, especially kids in public schools, is a worthwhile and necessary investment from the state. As we prepare to pass our state's budget in earnest, I encourage Senator Martin to do the research into the return on investment from increasing funding to these programs before he so callously dismisses their necessity again. We do not need the federal government to provide for Pennsylvanians what we can provide for them right here and now.”