Like many of you, we are dismayed by the continued increase of those experiencing food insecurity across the Philadelphia region. It’s challenging to see hope when so many of our family, friends, and neighbors are suffering.
This week at the coalition . . .
We continued to receive a higher than usual call volume through our SNAP Hotline (215-430-0556) Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We are hearing that BenePhilly is also seeing an increase in their call volume. Last week our SNAP Hotline team completed 98 pre-screenings and submitted 86 applications. During these conversations, callers have many questions and we hear people’s frustration with ongoing uncertainty as this crisis continues, but we also hear their gratitude for our assistance.
We continue to support the virtual Race Against Hunger fundraising efforts of our local Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen partners through May 31. In addition to Race fundraising, we have worked closely with several local foundations to help them identify food pantries and soup kitchens to receive grants to support their programs.
On the Advocacy and Policy front:
School districts across the region are taking steps to ensure families of eligible students will receive Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), the new benefit we mentioned last week. The School District of Philadelphia has launched itsP-EBT webpage, and we now have our fact sheet in Spanish and French to help inform all communities about this important new resource.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote TODAY on the next COVID-19 relief package — H.R. 6800, The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act (summary here). We are pleased that the SNAP priorities we have urged: (1) boosting the maximum SNAP benefit by 15 percent; (2) increasing the monthly minimum SNAP benefit from $16 to $30; and (3) suspending harmful rules that would terminate or weaken SNAP eligibility and benefits; are included in the bill. We must fight to ensure they remain in the final package.
As June quickly approaches, we have been working with partners to urge USDA to ensure Child Nutrition Programs and WIC continue to have the flexibility needed to serve children safely this summer. Just this morning,USDA announced the extension of critical nationwide waivers through Aug. 31, 2020.However, Pennsylvania still needs an extension of important WIC waivers, as well as a state specific Child Nutrition program waiver to continue to serve children in areas that don’t normally qualify. We will continue to push and hope to have good news next week!
SNAP HOTLINE STORY This week we received a call from a man who was looking for food. We called him back the same day and he was so very grateful that we returned his call. We listened to his story and discovered he was calling from Scranton, PA. While we don’t have the contacts to connect him with food resources in his community, we referred him to Benefits Data Trust who works across the state of Pennsylvania. This is the power of trusted relationships and partnerships!
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! Your ongoing support of those experiencing food insecurity gives us hope. We wish you health and safety as we move forward.
-The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger