Pa. lawmakers urge Wolf to help fix food-supply chain, protect meat packers

Jim Melwert
April 22, 2020 - 2:08 pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Some Republicans in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are calling on the governor’s office to help address issues in the food-supply chain.

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House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler, from Lancaster County, says the goal isn’t to scare people, but rather to bring attention to what could become a major issue.

"I want to be very clear, it’s not that there’s not enough food," Cutler said.

Instead, he says, the problem is packaging.

"Because of the fact that half of all of our food prior to the pandemic was consumed out of the home, it went to larger-scale restaurants. So you would get a 50-pound bag of flour rather than five. So we need to figure out how to repackage that."

For example, a food bank might need eggs. A producer might have extra eggs, but only by the pallet, but the food bank only has the capacity to handle them by the dozen.

"So, we need to have a plan in place to figure out how to get the food that is currently literally either rotting in the fields or being poured down the drains to the individuals who need it," he said.

One proposal from Cutler is to add packaging to include food packaging in the state’s manufacturing portal, which is designed to let companies know what items are needed.

State lawmakers are also urging the state to make sure meat packing facilities have the protective equipment they need.

“We need to make sure they have the PPE and the protection and the filter, if you will, to make sure if someone is sick they don’t get in there to infect additional people," Cutler said.

It's a personal safety concern for the workers, he added, and a societal concern to protect the food-supply chain.