Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $420,000 in tax credits to fund regional food bank

Additional funding of $60,000 for Erie neighborhood revitalization projects

ERIE, Dec. 18 – Tax credits of $420,563 under the state Neighborhood Assistance Program will boost the efforts of Erie-based Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania to alleviate food insecurity throughout the region, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today.

“Second Harvest has been playing a huge role in addressing hunger in our region for more than three decades,” Bizzarro said. “Keeping their operations running strong is essential because the issue of food insecurity undergirds so many critical life issues, from staving off sickness and disease to enabling parents to provide for their children.

“No family should ever have to choose between keeping food on the table and affording other essentials, such as housing, utilities or medications. Securing this help is going to help eliminate those devastating choices for families.”    

Harkins agreed, adding, “Widescale food distribution by organizations such as Second Harvest is more complicated than many people realize. From cultivating partnerships and securing donations from retailers, restaurants, growers, packers and government agencies to coordinating the distribution of food to area pantries and shelters, it’s a complex operation. I’m thankful that this help will help keep this vital regional provider running strong.”

Merski said that he was especially glad that the funding would allow Second Harvest to continue making food available for Erie’s youngest residents.

“Study after study shows that nutrition plays an essential role in supporting a student’s ability to focus and perform in school – it’s essential for proper brain development, academic achievement, and future success in life,” he said. “Food banks such as Second Harvest provide a critical service that keeps students thriving and makes life easier for our community’s families who might be struggling. Supporting them is a win-win for everyone.”

The lawmakers noted that in addition to the tax credits to Second Harvest, an additional $60,000 in tax credits will go to fund Erie neighborhood rejuvenation projects.

They include micro-grants to homeowners to fund a minimum of five home façade renovations with a maximum award of $10,000 each or 10 renovations with a maximum of $5,000 each; demolition of at least one officially listed blighted property in collaboration with the Erie Redevelopment Authority; clearance of at least one vacant lot and landscaping in a common theme tying it to other lots along Buffalo Road; and installation of three bus shelters, among other improvements.

NAP encourages private-sector investment into projects that will help improve distressed communities by providing tax credits to businesses that donate capital to support projects that address neighborhood and community. The tax credits to Second Harvest were awarded under the Charitable Food Program, while the $60,000 in tax credits were awarded under NAP’s Special Priorities Program.