For Immediate Release: May 31, 2023
Contact: Shannon Powers
Harrisburg, PA – Last week, the Shapiro Administration held the first meeting of the PA Food Policy Council, to evaluate and implement strategic, commonsense solutions to critical challenges facing Pennsylvania’s food system. The council, comprised of heads of eight state agencies and leaders 16 private-sector organizations, brings diverse expertise and perspectives from across the state together to work collaboratively to improve food and nutrition security, public health, environmental sustainability, local food systems, and to reduce food waste.
“Access to food is a basic human right,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “And ensuring that everyone in Pennsylvania has equitable access to healthy, nutritious food is a noble mission that faces challenging obstacles. Governor Josh Shapiro has assembled a knowledgeable and passionate team and chosen an accomplished, enthusiastic leader in Dawn Plummer to put us all to work to implement positive, commonsense change to our food systems and policy.”
In February 2023, Governor Shapiro appointed Dawn Plummer to serve as the council’s director. Plummer formerly served as executive director of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council and has background in food policy leadership and a proven track record of launching successful initiatives to address hunger and expand equitable food access.
“I am honored to serve the people of Pennsylvania alongside such a talented and devoted team,” Plummer said. “Prosperity and health start with good food and nutrition. And there is no goal more important for feeding our future than ensuring that everyone in Pennsylvania has access to healthy, fresh food.”
Council leadership includes the heads of the PA Departments of Aging, Agriculture, Community & Economic Development, Education, Environmental Protection, Health, Human Services and Labor & Industry.
The council’s 16-seat Advisory Committee includes:
- Joanna “Jo” Deming, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Food Policy Council
- Erica Mines, Manager, Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council
- Susan Dalandan, Coordinator, Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council
- Chris Keetch, Director of Produce & Floral, The GIANT Company
- Denele Hughson, Executive Director, Grow Pittsburgh
- Andy Bater, District Board Director, Farm Bureau
- Ken Regal, Executive Director, Just Harvest
- Shea S. Saman, Interim CEO, Feeding Pennsylvania
- Sheila Christopher, Executive Director, Hunger-Free PA
- Brett Reinford, Dairy Farm Operator, Reinford Farms
- Mark Edwards, Executive Director, The Food Trust
- Brian Campbell, Brian Campbell Farm
- Megan Schaper, Food Service Supervisor, Great Valley School District
- Desi Burnette, Statewide Coordinator, Movement of Immigrant Leaders of Pennsylvania
- Patty Bennett, Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, USDA Food & Nutrition Service
- Martin Bucknavage, Senior Food Safety Extension Associate, Penn State Extension
Since the beginning of the Shapiro Administration, the Department of Agriculture launched a $1.6 million grant program to expand access to emergency food supplies in underserved areas, increasing food security and access to healthy food for children and families wherever they live. The department received an $8.8 million boost in federal food assistance funding, plus a performance-based funding increase for effectively administering nutrition programs for low-income seniors.
Governor Shapiro proposed key investments in Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry and food security, including continued support for PA Farm Bill funding to improve childhood nutrition, proposed funding to provide free breakfast to every child in Pennsylvania public schools, and more.
For more information on commonsense solutions to complex challenges in Governor Shapiro’s 2023-24 budget proposal, visit shapirobudget.pa.gov.