While parts of PA will begin to slowly shift into the “yellow phase” of reopening, we know that the Greater Philadelphia region has a long way to go. And with the continuation of stay-at-home orders, we know that more and more individuals and families are struggling.
New research from the Brookings Institute, shows a rise in food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of April, more than one in five households in the United States were food insecure. Among mothers with young children, approximately two in five households say their children are not getting enough to eat. This rate is three times as high as in 2008, during the worst of the Great Recession.
And this is why our team at the Coalition is working in the following ways . . .
On the Advocacy and Policy front, we have good news, an updated material, and some concerning information to share.
The good news - Pennsylvania’s Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) plan was approved by USDA on Wednesday. P-EBT is a new benefit made possible by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that will provide additional, temporary resources to households with students who are eligible but are missing out on free or reduced-price meals now that schools are closed. Households of an estimated 330,000 students in the five-county southeastern PA region will receive P-EBT to purchase food. For details, see this P-EBT fact sheet.
On the more troubling front, despite the economic crisis throughout Pennsylvania, the Department of Human Services (DHS) has still not seen a big increase in SNAP applications. Earlier this week the DHS reported that it actually saw a drop – of about 7,400 applications last week as compared to the previous week (a 17% decline). While there has been a slight increase thus far this week, PA is an outlier when compared to many other states that have seen a doubling or even tripling of the number of SNAP applications submitted. DHS and advocates are trying to figure out why. In the meantime, please help spread the word that people can still apply for SNAPeven though County Assistance Offices are closed.
This week we participated in the Phillies Food Drop. Through this event we coordinated the pickup of 4,980 lbs of food, including 300 packed bags for three food panties in the north, west, and southeast neighborhoods of Philadelphia. During the month of April, our Food Rescue Program coordinated food pantry and soup kitchen pickup of approximately 15,400 lbs. of food serving 1,920 people in approximately 640 households. We continue to support the virtual Race Against Hunger fundraising efforts of our local Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen partners through May 31.
Through our SNAP Hotline we continue to help individuals and families navigate the SNAP application process. We operate the SNAP Hotline (215-430-0556) Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many of those calling our Hotline are anxiously looking for help to file for unemployment and Medicaid. While we are not able to assist them with these programs, PLA (Philadelphia Legal Assistance) is helping clients to complete applications for unemployment over the phone. For clients looking to apply for Medicaid, they can call the PHAN (PA Health Access Network) helpline at 877-570-3642. Philadelphia residents can also call BenePhillyto enroll in multiple benefits, including Medicaid.
FOOD PANTRY STORY
We hear a lot about those who are on the COVID-19 front lines. Some important groups on the front lines are the food pantry and soup kitchen leaders and volunteers who continue to look for ways to safely deliver food to those who need it. COVID-19 has changed the way local food pantries and soup kitchens operate. Sadly some have had to shut their doors due to the age vulnerability of their leaders and volunteers or due to the closure of the church, synagogue, or mosque where their program operates. One of our VIP (Victory in Partnership) members, Mizpah SDA in Frankford has continued to provide food by implementing social distancing, preparing pre-packed food boxes, and of course mandating the wearing of masks for both volunteers and those receiving boxes. The Coalition's Race Against Hunger fundraising platform provides essential dollars to support the ongoing efforts of food pantries such as Mizpah SDA. Thanks to Vernessa Wilson and the volunteers at Mizpah SDA, as well as the many other food pantry and soup kitchen leaders across our region for their ongoing commitment!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Register at https://hungercoalition.salsalabs.org/advocacyalerts/index.html to receive up to date Advocacy Alerts.
Make a donation to support our work.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are grateful for you! Thank you for your support of those experiencing food insecurity. We wish you health and safety as we move forward.
-The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger