We are advocating in hopes that Congress will vote to ensure additional resources are provided for those experiencing unemployment, health issues, and food insecurity before they leave for their next recess. We know that these resources are essential to the health and well-being of our friends, neighbors, and family members in the Greater Philadelphia region.
As we wait, we’re working in the following ways to address food insecurity across the region . . .
We support our local Food Pantry and Soup Kitchens
The Coalition's next Victory in Partnership (VIP) meeting will take place on Thursday, October 8th from 10:30am-12noon on Zoom. The VIP program supports Philadelphia area food pantries and soup kitchens through connections to food, volunteers and client resources, as well as opportunities for fundraising, grants, technical assistance and peer networking.
If your food pantry or soup kitchen is interested in becoming a VIP member (no cost!) or you know of a program that might be interested in joining us, please contact Tanya at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-430-0555, x101 for membership and meeting details.
On our Advocacy and Policy front, we have several items to share:
Good news first! Last Friday (just after our weekly email went out) we learned that a federal judge granted Community Legal Service's request for a preliminary injunction in its lawsuit seeking "SNAP emergency allotments" (EAs) for households that are receiving the maximum benefit. The judge barred USDA from denying a new request from Pennsylvania for EAs for those who were denied them under USDA's interpretation of the Families First Act. Pennsylvania's DHS has already committed to making this request and planned to submit it as soon as this week. For more information, as well as a link to the judge's decision and order, see CLS’ press release.
Take action: Unfortunately, we are again facing the expiration of important child nutrition waivers. This time there are WIC waivers that will expire on Sept. 30. Without an extension, PA WIC agencies will face very steep, potentially insurmountable challenges, to providing services. PA's youngest children - infants and toddlers - and their parents the WIC nutrition supports they need to stay healthy! We are asking organizations to add their name to this sign on letter to USDA urging the extension of WIC waivers. Deadline to sign on is COB on Wed., Sept. 23.
New – and evolving – resource: As we did last spring, we have tracked down meal distribution information for the school districts in the four suburban counties in our region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery). You can find the information in this google sheet. As with many things during the pandemic, change is constant. We will work to keep the information as up-to-date as possible and will indicate the date of the most recent update on the “Overview” sheet at the start of the document. Please also be sure to read the overview before clicking on individual county tabs. Also remember, you can find information on meal distribution sites for children in Philadelphia on the School District of Philadelphia’s Grab-n-Go meals page and from Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese. Information about meal sites for children, as well as for all other ages can also be found here on the City of Philadelphia website, as well as by entering your zip code at: Community Resource Connects.
Media: Lastly, this week the U.S. Census Bureau released the 2019 American Community Survey Statistics for Income, Poverty and Health Insurance. While 2019 data showed some positive gains for Philadelphia (a lessening of poverty and an increase in median income), as well as for much of the region, the sad truth is that the pandemic has made 2019 ancient history. The Coalition was able to point out in this Philadelphia Inquirer story on the Census release that there is a critical need for Congress to act to pass a COVID relief package to respond to rising hardship.
Our SNAP Hotline team continues to help households navigate the SNAP application process through our SNAP Hotline at 215-430-0556, Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We continue to see a steady increase in calls to our SNAP Hotline with many questions due to the uncertainty of programs and benefits. We also offer callers case management services to those who need it.
OUR BLACK LIVES MATTER WORK
Tuesday, September 22, 2020 is National Voter Registration Day! There is still time to check your voter registration status, register to vote or sign up to volunteer. The ACLU Pennsylvania is looking for volunteers to join their Ambassadors program. To learn more, click here.
SNAP HOTLINE STORY
During a call this week, Claire, our SNAP Hotline Counselor, asked a caller if he was registered to vote. He said that because he had a drug conviction, he was ineligible to vote. He was told this by an authority figure at the prison. Claire explained that you cannot vote while incarcerated, but that he is eligible to complete registration and vote upon release. Claire advised him to register. One of his family members offered to complete his registration online when his SNAP application was completed. He was quite happy to be able to register, cast his vote, and to have another piece of identification as he works to rebuild his life. This is our SNAP Hotline in Action!
Save The Date!The Night to Fight Hunger Virtual Gala is Thursday, November 12, 2020 at 6:30 pm. Join us on Facebook and YouTube Live! It is free to attend. Help us “drive hunger from our community!” More details coming soon. If you are interested in a sponsorship or donating an auction item, please contact Michele Lofton at email@example.com
Thank you for supporting our work to connect individuals and families to the food resources they need!
-The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger