As our time of physical distancing extends, we know that those experiencing food insecurity are encountering greater barriers to accessing food. Our primary goal right now is to connect people to the food resources they need.
As a result our team is . . .
Connecting our Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen Partners to additional food through the Food Rescue Program, providing additional funding through a partnership with the Pincus Fund, and supporting their fundraising efforts through the virtual Race Against Hunger. We are also continuing to work with community partners and the City of Philadelphia to keep our clients up to date on where to find local food resources.
Our SNAP Hotline continues to experience a higher call volume. Last week alone we screened 94 calls and submitted 90 SNAP applications. We are developing a triage approach to better address the needs of callers. Changes to the SNAP Application process include;
DHS received approval from USDA to waive the requirement that an interview be completed before issuing Expedited SNAP, ongoing SNAP, or atrenewal. This will ease the process for individuals and allow county assistance offices to focus on the high volume of new applications resulting from the ongoing economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
They have also extended certification periods for households by six months (for instance, households expected to complete renewals in March will do so in September).
Things continue to change quickly on the Advocacy and Policy front. In addition to the SNAP waiver mentioned above, Pennsylvania was one of 31 states granted an “area eligibility” waiver from USDA. This will provide more flexibility to school districts to distribute meals in areas that do not have 50 percent or more of participants who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. We have been regularly updating a google sheet with details on school meal distributions in our suburban counties. We are working to develop a similar resource for WIC and hope to have an update to share with you early next week.
A FOOD RESCUE STORY Several years ago, we heard from food pantries in Southeastern PA that approximately 42.8% of them sometimes, often, or always run out of food. In an effort to address this, our Community Organizer, Derek Felton, designed a Food Rescue Program for our VIP members. Since the start of COVID-19, participation has increased and this past week we were privileged to add two more community heroes to our Food Rescue team; Matrie Johnson from Take A Sistah to Lunch and Na'ilah Johns from MASJIDULLAH. Both of these organizations specialize in food deliveries to home bound clients. Such a needed service, especially right now! For Matrie and Na’ilah, participation in the Food Rescuce program helps them deliver more healthy food to their home bound clients, who are especially vulnerable right now. We are grateful to support them in their important efforts.
Join us for theVirtual Race Against Hunger- Register to run or walk between April 17 and April 27 whenever and wherever it works for you or make a donation at https://www.phillyhungerrace.com/. These dollars are more important than ever!
Spread the news about the Virtual Race Against Hunger to your family, friends, and neighbors.
Thank you for all you do to support your family, friends, and neighbors who are food insecure. Wishing you health, safety, and hope as we navigate these challenging times.
-The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger