Many of our family members, friends and neighbors are struggling to survive. This is a battle made even more difficult by the onset of COVID-19. The Coalition team and board members remain steadfast in our dedication to fight food insecurity using our Three Prong Approach: immediate relief, short term relief and addressing long term solutions. This holistic approach ensures that households across the Greater Philadelphia region are able to access the food resources they need.
TAKE OUR SPECIAL SURVEY!
We have heard from several food pantries that they need help with providing their clients with ways to prepare unfamiliar foods. Is it canned beans, an usual squash, a mysterious green or a picture of an unknown vegetable? Or do you have recipes that you have already shared with your clients that could help other food pantries?
Please take a moment to complete this brief surveyso we can learn more about how we can best support the needs of your pantry and clients. Your feedback is highly valuable to us and our mission at the Coalition Against Hunger. Thank you!
If you prefer to answer these questions over the phone, please call Tanya at the Coalition Against Hunger at 215-430-0555, extension 101.
Short Term Relief
Our SNAP Hotline helps households navigate the SNAP application process during the most difficult times. Our counselors passionately continue their work guiding callers and providing case management when needed. 215-430-0556, Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
SNAP HOTLINE STORY
Last Wednesday, Alejandra, our SNAP Hotline Manager received a call from a Case Manager on behalf of an older woman. The Case Manager from a local hospital called because the older woman was receiving chemotherapy treatments M-F for a cancer diagnosis. She explained that the woman had been attempting to receive SNAP assistance for some time, but each benefit request was denied. Alejandra worked over the next two days, talking with the older woman and discovered she was having difficulty because her daughter's income was being included in her SNAP application. And although her daughter was working to take care of them both, their incomes should have been considered separately. Last Friday the older woman called Alejandra and reported that she finally received her SNAP benefits. “Everything worked out perfectly when we worked together” said Alejandra, with a sigh of relief and a smile. This is our SNAP Hotline in action!
Long Term Solutions
On the Advocacy and Policy front, we have more good news than bad this week:
Last week, we asked organizations to sign onto a letter to USDA Secretary Perdue urging the extension of several WIC waivers that have been critical to providing nutrition supports. We are happy to say that on Monday USDA announced it was extending these crucial waivers “for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.” This is VERY good news! With all the uncertainties of the pandemic, WIC agencies will continue to need these flexibilities to safely provide services in the coming months.
On Tuesday night, the US House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution, or “CR” (HR 8337), that will fund all federal government departments through December 11, 2020. The Senate is expected to vote on the CR prior to the end of the current federal fiscal year (Sept. 30) to avert a government shutdown. While we are disappointed that the CR did not include the SNAP improvements we’ve been promoting, there are several provisions that will help fight thealarming increase in childhood hunger resulting from COVID-19. The Act:
Improves and extends Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), which provides families an EBT card to purchase food to replace the school meals their children are missing while learning remotely. P-EBT has been extended through Fiscal Year 2021; will provide benefits to children in schools with reduced days or hours in addition to those that are closed at least 5 days; will cover young children who are missing meals in child care centers through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP); and, includes funding to cover state administrative costs.
Allows states to extend key SNAP flexibilities through September 30, 2021 so that staff can safely administer, and clients can safely access, the program. This includes extending certification periods, adjusting reporting requirements, simplifying the recertification process, and extending interview flexibilities.
Extends USDA’s authority to issue child nutrition waivers (such as the WIC and school meals waivers you have helped us fight for!) through FY 2021 so the child nutrition programs can continue to respond to the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic.
Again, while we are pleased the CR includes important tools to fight hunger, we urge Congress to pass a longer-term comprehensive COVID-19 relief package that will help millions of Americans address basic needs. Hungry people can’t wait!
Also on Tuesday, DHS submitted its request to USDA so that it may issue additional SNAP benefits (“Emergency Allotments”) to the 40% of PA SNAP households that had been denied this assistance due to USDA’s misinterpretation of the Families First Act. (Note, this request follows a ruling and preliminary injunction in a CLS lawsuit on behalf of SNAP households that we reported on last week). We will keep you posted on the details once USDA responds.
WARNING! We remind all SNAP to be mindful of potential scams surrounding SNAP benefits. USDA and DHS have cautioned that there have been reports of people receiving unsolicited notifications that they are eligible for food stamps or SNAP benefits. DHS, as well as other government agencies, do not and will not seek participation in SNAP via random calls or text. Pennsylvanians should not reply or share any personal information if contacted.
Our Community Education team has some updated informational flyers to share! Each year, information about anti-hunger programs changes, and staying up to date on available resources has never been more important. Our general resource flyer has important information about food distribution throughout Philadelphia, food delivery for certain populations, discounted produce, and important resources for kids. This flyer is designed to have a little something for everyone. Want to learn more? Contact our community educator, Katie, at firstname.lastname@example.org for a workshop or information session for your group or program.
Our Black Lives Matter Commitment
As part of our ongoing commitment to Black Lives Matter, the Coalition has partnered with ACLUPA to actively promote and educate Greater Philadelphia area voters about their rights during the upcoming election. Like, Follow, Share and Subscribe the videos of a Zoom chat between our staff and Donnell Drinks, election protection coordinator with ACLU PA. Mr. Drinks answers staff important voter questions and connects us to essential election day resources.
Join us on November 12, 2020 for the Night to Fight Hunger Virtual Gala, the annual fundraiser of the Coalition Against Hunger. Your support is more important this year than ever! ALL ARE FREE TO ATTEND! Proceeds will support the Coalition’s work which connects people to emergency food resources through our food pantry network, our SNAP (food stamp) Hotline; and our advocacy of policies that create access to nutrition programs for so many people in need.