This week we are grateful to those of you who participated in the Virtual Race Against Hunger. Thank you for your creativity, engagement, and support of our work to connect people to the food resources they need, especially during this challenging time. Click the picture below to see a message of gratitude from our staff.
And while the Virtual Race Against Hunger has ended, fundraising efforts for the Coalition and local food pantries and soup kitchens continue until May 31. COVID-19 has put immense pressure on our local food pantries/soup kitchens and our SNAP Hotline. At the Coalition, we are re-building our capacity to meet the increased need for food resources and support our food pantry/soup kitchen partners both today and into the future.
With your support, we are . . .
Connecting over 180 households to local food resources since mid-March. We are also supporting the virtual Race Against Hunger fundraising efforts of our local Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen partners. We know that the dollars raised by pantries and kitchens through the Race are essential to ensure their ongoing food delivery programs. We are continuing our Food Rescue Program designed to help fill food inventory gaps.
Operating our SNAP Hotline at 215-430-0556, Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This week our work to help the exponentially growing number of people in need of food resources was noted in the Philadelphia Inquirer. We grew our Hotline capacity to help address extremely high demand with the addition of Glory Morales, our “new” part-time SNAP Hotline Counselor. Glory is not entirely new, as she previously worked for the Coalition and is well-versed in providing SNAP application assistance. We are grateful that she has joined us.
On the Advocacy and Policy front, we’d like to highlight the important interconnection of food security and income security. We know many of our callers need help because they have lost jobs. A large share of newly unemployed SNAP recipients – nearly 70% of those surveyed by our friends at FreshEBTin early April – had not applied for unemployment benefits. Many were under the impression they would not qualify or had been turned down by the system before. In fact, there are four different elements of unemployment benefits right now:
Traditional or Regular Unemployment Compensation(UC) - this system has been in place for a long time. States administer it and can have different requirements and benefits. Applicants need to earn sufficient wages and credit weeks to qualify, and could typically get payments for a maximum of 26 weeks. The CARES Act has extended these benefits to 39 weeks.
NEW Pandemic Unemployment Assistance(PUA) - this is the new unemployment program made possible through the CARES Act. PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation (self-employed; gig workers; part-time or short-term workers who wouldn't have enough earnings or weeks for UC). Pennsylvania got its system up and running on April 18.
BOTH groups, those receiving UC and those receiving PUA, qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC), which includes additional benefits of $600 per week, on top of regular benefits for April 4 - July 25. While this additional income may make some households ineligible for SNAP, we will be here to help them access SNAP again come August if they are still out of work.
Lastly, there is Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) for UC Benefit "exhaustees" - anyone who was receiving unemployment compensation before the current crisis started and ran out of their 26 weeks of benefits AFTER July 1, 2019. They will be able to apply for an additional 13 weeks of benefits (to match the 39 provided to others) due to the difficulty of finding work given current conditions. PA is still waiting on guidance for this program.
A gentleman called us this week who was returning home after being hospitalized for COVID-19 for an extended period and he had no food in his house. Our staff returned his call and set up a delivery of food to his house through one of our many food pantry partners. We are grateful to be able to have food delivered to him due to our partnerships with local food pantries and soup kitchens. We are also in the process of helping him to apply for SNAP benefits so he can focus on continuing to heal and not worry where his next meal will come from. This is our Coalition team working in partnership with local food pantries and county offices to deliver food resources to those who most need them!
Set-up a Virtual Race Against Hunger fundraising page to benefit the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. Fundraising for the Race continues until May 31st. Contact Michele Lofton at email@example.com.
We are grateful for you! Thank you for your support of those experiencing food insecurity. We wish you health and safety as we navigate these challenging times.
-The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger