Policy and Advocacy
We have several updates this week. As we’ll soon enter the second half of August, the end of summer camps and the start of the school year are just around the corner. That means many summer meal sites will soon finish their season and schools will begin serving meals with a return to in-person instruction (fingers crossed!). In addition, the School District of Philadelphia is developing a plan for students that attend school virtually.
Here is the latest on the status of summer meals sites:
- In preparation for the school year, the School District of Philadelphia has phased out 56 of its meal distribution sites (their last day open was Aug. 6). Its other 41 sites remain open and will serve today (Aug. 13) and will have their final distribution on Friday, Aug. 20. You can find the list of these school sites on the School District’s Grab & Go meals webpage.
- Many Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PPR) camps are ending today (Aug. 13), so meal service at those sites will end. However, there are hundreds of other PPR sponsored sites that will remain in operation until Aug. 27.
- Many other sites throughout the city and region that are run by other sponsors, such as Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese (NDS), the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) and others, will also remain in operation through Aug. 27.
- You can find more information about sites throughout the five-county region on our Coalition Against Hunger summer meals map, and Phila.gov/food will continue to operate as a permanent resource for finding food resources (student, senior and outdoor meal sites, as well as food distribution for families).
On the Pandemic EBT front (P-EBT is a program that gives families money to purchase food due to disruptions in school), hundreds of thousands of children throughout the state have successfully received their P-EBT benefits. Unfortunately, there are also thousands more who are still awaiting their benefits. The state is working through a huge backlog of problems that have been reported, and responses are currently taking over a month. We are hopeful that the addition of more staff will help speed up this process! In the meantime, we have a new P-EBT Update flier in English and in Spanish that provides an overview of eligibility, payment dates and amounts, as well as information on where parents/guardians can report problems with their child’s benefits.
Next, onto important news and resources regarding the Child Tax Credit. Propel, the creator of “Providers” (formerly named Fresh EBT), a free mobile app that helps over 5 million low-income families manage their SNAP benefits, has been surveying its users throughout the pandemic. Its July survey results revealed that 26% of Providers users with children under the age of 18 have not heard of the Child Tax Credit, which would provide $250-300 per month per child. Latinx users were significantly less likely to know about the Child Tax Credit (33% had not heard of it). This means we all must do more to spread the word! The City has made CTC Fact Sheets available in nine languages (Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Khmer, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese), and you can also click here for more on What you Need to Know.
Looking ahead to September, many challenges are on the horizon. Just after Labor Day, 7.5 million workers face a devastating unemployment benefits cliff – including nearly half a million (490,460) Pennsylvanians. A wide range of federal Pandemic Unemployment programs (PUA, FPUC and PEUC), all designed to respond to the devastating job loss caused by COVID-19, will be cut off on September 6, with no grace period. Not only will workers lose crucial support, but the end of unemployment benefits will actually slow economic growth, just as the Delta variant complicates job recovery and our path to normalcy. Many people who are losing unemployment benefits may not have used SNAP benefits in the past, and many don't know they are eligible. Please share our SNAP income guidelines flier widely, and encourage those who may be eligible to call our hotline for application assistance.
Lastly, with so many challenges to recovery remaining, we are thrilled that earlier this week Senate Democrats unveiled a budget resolution that provides a framework to pass what’s being called the “Build Back Better” agenda. This proposal – which is just a framework with much negotiating to come – is the best chance we may have in decades to make the investments needed for a stronger, more equitable economy that will improve the lives of millions of Americans. See this official Senate memo for highlights of the instructions given to committees drafting the Build Back Better plan.