Dear Friends,

On Friday last week, President Biden signed an Executive Order to address food hardship across America. This action not only aims to improve two existing COVID-relief efforts, but sends an important message that improving food security is a priority for this administration. The Executive Order:

  • Seeks to improve SNAP emergency allotments (EAs) authorized under the March 2020 Families First Act to reach households with the most trouble affording food. As you may remember from our prior updates, the Trump administration did not allow states to provide EAs to households that already receive the maximum SNAP benefit (the lowest income families!). USDA must work with the Justice Department to review the prior policy. The timing of any changes and the amount of EAs that households would receive is unclear.
  • Asks USDA to increase the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefit by 15 percent. P-EBT, a new program launched in the spring, has been a crucial resource, providing families funds to buy groceries when their children are missing out on free or reduced-price school meals due to remote learning. 
  • Directs the USDA to move quickly on a re-evaluation of SNAP benefit levels, which fall short of what many participants need to purchase and prepare healthy meals. Benefits are currently based on the Thrifty Food Plan, which has not been adequately updated over time to reflect the actual cost of a nutritious diet. Updating benefits levels would help ensure that SNAP better responds to households’ food needs over the long term and provides desperately needed support for tens of millions of people struggling to put food on the table but is also an effective trigger for jump-starting the economy.

We are encouraged to see these directives and hope they are a sign of more effective anti-hunger initiatives to come!

The end of the day tomorrow (Saturday, January 30th) is the deadline to submit your thoughts through our community feedback tool. Your thoughts and comments are the first step towards our upcoming Strategic Planning process. The feedback tool has 15 questions and will take 10-15 minutes depending on the length of your response. All responses are anonymous and confidential. Thank you! 

 

SNAP Hotline

Our SNAP Hotline continues to experience an increase in calls. Thank you to our volunteers and SNAP Hotline Team for their tireless efforts to support individuals and families as they navigate the SNAP application process! Our SNAP Hotline operates Monday – Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at 215-430-0556.    

 

Policy and Advocacy

In addition to the Executive Order noted above, we have three updates to share:

  • While Pennsylvania has not yet submitted its Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) plan to USDA for approval, last week PDE notified school districts that it is working with DHS toward the goal of an early-to-mid spring P-EBT benefits issuance. As part of the many steps needed to prepare, PDE has asked schools to encourage families to: 1) make sure the school has their student's current address, and 2) apply for free or reduced-price school meals if their child isn't already enrolled. Families can apply using COMPASS online. (Note, no application is needed for families whose children attend schools that provide free meals to all students, such as the School District of Philadelphia and most Charter schools in the city).  Please help us spread the word so that families have their up-to-date address on file with their child’s school!
  • As school districts throughout the region continue to adapt to COVID limitations with a wide variety of hybrid and remote learning models, their food service departments continue to navigate changes and provide meals to students. A reminder that we are keeping track on what suburban county school districts are doing on our Winter 2021 SEPA Meal Distribution list. There is a tab for each county (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery). We will be updating the information on a monthly basis
  • Yesterday, the Census Bureau released the latest round of data from its Pulse survey (for January 6 - 18). While the relief package passed in December seems to have helped halt the upward trend of hardship seen at the end of 2020, there are still millions of people who did not get enough to eat, have not caught up on rent, and continued to struggle to cover basic expenses. For details, CBPP’s updated COVID Hardship Tracker.
 

Food Pantry and Soup Kitchens

Do you know someone in need of food?  Our partners at Nutritional Development Services (NDS) will be hosting a FREE Farmers to Family Food Distribution Day on Saturday, January 30th from 10am to noon at 222 North 17th Street, Philadelphia, PA  19103.  They will have food boxes that include a variety of meats, dairy, and produce, as well as student meal kits with 7 breakfasts and 7 lunches for virtual students who are not receiving school meals.  All families are welcome, no ID required.  

Click here for their Facebook event page to share on social media.

 

Intern Spotlight
Connecting families and individuals across the entire Philadelphia region to food assistance resources is a large undertaking that requires dedication and desire to help our neighbors. The Coalition team is fortunate to have interns who embody each of those values. Read more about all of our current Coalition interns and their commitment to the anti-hunger movement below. Thank you to Jessica, Lizzie, Bri, Regina and Jess!  

Jessica Hillman

MSW Intern 

University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy and Practice 

“What excites me most about this internship is learning from and working with people who are passionate about their work and dedicated to helping others”.

Lizzie Pope

Race Against Hunger Event Intern

Temple University

“It aligns with my desire to work for a non-profit organization whose goal is to educate and better the lives of the surrounding community”.

 

 

 

Bri Pruden, MSPH-RD Candidate

Graduate Student Intern

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health 

“I am so excited to have the opportunity to intern at an organization that does so much to alleviate and prevent hunger – and more specifically to work on projects focusing on advancing WIC services with the goal of improving maternal and child health in Pennsylvania”.

Regina Karpovich

Dietetic Intern

LaSalle University

I am excited most about the Green Light Pantries. I am an advocate for still eating healthy in times of need”.

 

SAVE-THE-DATE: THE RACE AGAINST HUNGER

Starting Monday, February 1st, you can visit www.phillyhungerrace.com and register to participate in this year’s Race Against Hunger’s 5K Run/Walk which runs Friday, April 16, 2021 - Monday, April 26, 2021. This year will be a virtual event which means you can run or walk the distance of a 5K at any location and time during the designated dates that you’d like. You can even complete the event on a treadmill. For the past 25 years, The Coalition has hosted the Race Against Hunger to raise funds that help combat hunger in the Philadelphia region for close to 730,000 people struggling with food insecurity.

We hope you’ll join us! 

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?  

We strive to build a community where all people have the food they need to lead healthy lives. Hunger is preventable. Thank you for your continued support of our work! 

The Coalition Against Hunger Team

Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger
123 Chestnut Street Suite 401 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106
215-430-0555 | info@hungercoalition.org

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