Overall, this week’s weather seemed to reflect the backdrop of growing food insecurity across our region.
One ray of sunshine this week are those of you who safely ran or walked as part of this year’s Virtual Race Against Hunger. Some of you got creative by biking, skating or hitting the treadmill to fight hunger. Registration is open until midnight on Sunday, April 26 for participation through Monday, April 27. You might want to aim to run or walk on Saturday with current weather predictions calling for some rays of sunshine!
By participating in the Race Against Hunger, you support the following work. . .
Our team continues to support the virtual Race Against Hunger fundraising efforts of our local Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen partners. These dollars support their important work today and in the future. Fundraising continues through May 31. We continue to re-shape our Food Rescue Program to ensure the safety and well-being of our team and pantry/soup kitchen partners. And our team is working to connect individuals, families and organizations to local food resources on a daily basis.
Some good news on the Advocacy and Policy front,
Earlier this week Pennsylvania received approval from USDA to continue to issue emergency SNAP supplements each month until such a time as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services rescinds the public health emergency declaration. This means that beginning in mid-May and thereafter, DHS will issue additional SNAP benefits to households in an amount that brings their partial benefit up to the maximum SNAP amount for their household size. April supplements are still being disbursed (as explained in this fact sheetthat we will update for May and share in a future email). Unfortunately, USDA has interpreted the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act such that SNAP households already receiving the maximum benefit are not eligible for a supplement. DHS is drafting a letter to Congress expressing concern about this interpretation and requesting additional resources to serve the 40% of SNAP households that do not benefit from this change.
On Monday, DHS and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) submitted Pennsylvania’s Pandemic EBT plan, a plan to provide an additional benefit to children who are missing out on free or reduced-price school meals due to school closures.
We also joined a nationwide “Twitterstorm” on Wed. calling for a 15% increase in SNAP benefits. We’re happy to report that #SNAPMatters was trending on Twitter at #11 nationally during the tweetstorm!
DHS is preparing a plan to request approval for Pennsylvania to join USDA’s pilot program to allow SNAP recipients to purchase groceries online. If approved, there would be several, potentially time consuming, system changes needed (including changes by retailer’s systems) in order to make implementation possible. We recognize this will not be a quick fix to address current COVID challenges, but are very pleased DHS is taking steps to broaden shopping options for SNAP recipients.
We are extremely thankful for the hard work that staff of DHS, PDE, and PA Dept. of Agriculture (PDA) have done, and continue to do, to serve our vulnerable friends, families, and neighbors!
We are very excited to welcome Glory Morales, a former Coalition staff member, to our SNAP Hotline team this week! Glory brings experience navigating the SNAP application process and helps us grow our capacity to respond to the urgent needs of our clients. Our SNAP Hotline at 215-430-0556 continues to operate Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
RACE AGAINST HUNGER PANTRY STORY Last year, New Beginnings Pentecostal Church's Food Pantry located in the Germantown section of the City, raised almost $4,000 through the Race Against Hunger. These funds allowed them to even better nourish their community by allowing them to purchase a new refrigerator, freezer, and additional shelving for food storage. These essential dollars were also stretched to pay for truck repairs for food pick-ups and bags for food distributions. Pastor Linda Shields says, "We believe the Race Against Hunger gives Food Pantries an opportunity to address the massive issue of food insecurity in our city."
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Support our Virtual Race Against Hunger by:
Registering to run or walk through April 27 whenever and wherever it works for you or make a donation at www.phillyhungerrace.com;
Spreading the news about the Virtual Race Against Hunger with your family, friends, and neighbors; and/or
Setting-up a Virtual Race Against Hunger fundraising page to benefit the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. Contact Michele Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The dollars we raise through this year’s Virtual Race Against Hunger are more important than ever!
Thank you for all you do to support your family, friends, and neighbors who are experiencing food insecurity! Wishing you health, safety, and rays of sunshine as we navigate these challenging times.
-The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger