We give thanks to God for the many ways disciples and ministries are working to see that no one goes hungry. Whether you are currently operating a feeding ministry, donating to community feeding efforts, or are in need of food assistance, please look to the state and federal programs that your advocacy has helped create for times such as these.
Encourage those who are in need or recently unemployed to apply promptly for state and federal benefits programs. These programs are a more efficient and effective way of addressing (and measuring) hunger and other needs than what our ministries can sustain.
You are encouraged to hand out this one-page resource, For times such as these, to folks who are receiving meals or food. It is a concise, consolidation of many of the resources and access points shared in this posting.
Using these programs will help our communities — the number of those eligible will be used to determine future aid and reimbursement for a variety of programs. This is especially true of free-and-reduced school meal programs. Even if your school district is currently providing free meals to all students, families whose income has changed should apply through their local school district for quick processing of the application for free-and-reduce meals. If your school district does not have an online application, encourage them to create one.
While most eligibility verifications for food assistance have been waived to reduce barriers to access during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania, there are several state programs that still require individuals to seek out and enroll in individually to qualify and receive benefit. These programs include:
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Formerly known as food stamps, SNAP provides assistance to low-income and working Pennsylvanians, allowing them to purchase produce and groceries for themselves and their family. SNAP helps more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians, including about 700,000 children, about 690,000 people with disabilities, and about 300,000 older adults, expand purchasing power to ensure their household has enough food to avoid going hungry. SNAP is issued through a monthly payment to an electronic benefit transfer card, and benefits are based off income and household size. People can apply for SNAP online at www.compass.state.pa.us online at any time.
• Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program: This program runs from June 1 through November 30 each year. Seniors must be 60 or older by December 31 of the program year and have income at or below 185% of the U.S. poverty level. Eligible seniors should call their county Aging office for information on distribution of vouchers. Vouchers are distributed on a first come, first serve basis.
• WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program: This program runs from June 1 through November 30 each year, and recipients must be on the WIC program to receive this benefit. Children 1-year and older, and pregnant/post-partum women will receive vouchers for the program during their quarterly WIC visit (May through September).
• Commodity Supplemental Food Program: Eligible participants include individuals who are at least 60 years old and whose household income is at or below 130% of the U.S. poverty level. To qualify, individuals must complete an application with proof of income. Questions about where/how to access this program can be directed to the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Food Assistance by calling 1-800-468-2433 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Women who are pregnant or have had a baby in the past six months, or twelve if breastfeeding; infants and children under the age of five; and fathers, grandparents, and foster parents who are the legal guardian of a child under age five, may apply for WIC. WIC applicants must reside in Pennsylvania, have a medical or nutritional risk, and have a gross household income that does not exceed 185% of the U.S. poverty level.
In addition to applying for the benefits above, Pennsylvanians can receive immediate access to food resources by visiting a Feeding Pennsylvania or Hunger-Free Pennsylvania member food bank. Pennsylvanians out of work and without pay as a result of COVID-19 are eligible to receive state and federally sourced foods from Pennsylvania’s food banks and pantries.
· Pennsylvania Department of Human Services 24/7 Mental Health Support Line
· Crisis text line: text “PA” to 741-741
· 800-FARM-AID (327-6243)
· Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Eastern
· 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Pennsylvania Launches COVID-19 Job Hiring Portal
The Department of Labor and Industry has launched a new online job portal. People seeking employment can visit www.PAcareerlink.pa.gov and select the green “PA COVID-19 Jobs – Hiring Immediately” job portal banner to see active job openings. Selecting the “Apply Now” button for a listed position will redirect individuals to the employer’s website or email where they can apply directly with the employer and speed up the hiring process.
Life-sustaining businesses can feature their job openings on the portal through an easy to use online form. Businesses must meet the criteria of a life-sustaining business and must have more than 10 job openings .
The PA COVID-19 job portal is updated daily so businesses in need are spotlighted and people searching for employment have the latest job information.
Benefits Data Trust (BDT) now has a hotline available for PA residents to call in order to easily get connected to public benefits completely over the phone.
The hotline number is 833-373-5869. Here are the 8 benefits BDT supports over this hotline:
- Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – nutrition assistance program that helps households pay for groceries each month.
- Medicaid (MA)– provides health coverage to eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people living with disabilities.
- Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly (PACE)– is a prescription assistance program, which helps with co-pays, for individuals 65 and older.
- Childcare Subsidy (CCIS)– supports childcare fees for a child under 13 years of age or between 13-19 years old living with a disability.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)– is health insurance for children 19 years of age & younger.
- Medicare Extra Help (LIS)– is for Medicare beneficiaries and helps pay for Medicare Part D prescription drug costs.
- Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR)– provides a rebate for eligible homeowner or renters of the property tax or rent they paid in the previous year
- Homestead Exemption– offers Real Estate Tax savings to homeowners by reducing the taxable portion of their property.
United Way of Pennsylvania COVID-19 Resource Page
One-stop shop for resources most relevant and helpful to the general public during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Updated daily.
Online search of PA 211 Resources Database:
A way for anyone to search for the resources they need, when they need them, in their community. This self-guided search is tied to the 211 resource database and is the most up-to-date information 211 has.
COVID-19 Nonprofit Resources Hub
United Way of Pennsylvania has created a resource hub which is tailored to nonprofits and organizations responsible for providing health and human services. This information is curated on a daily basis, with the goal of helping all people-serving organizations be aware of directives from federal and state government throughout the pandemic, and to share other helpful information which may assist with business and mission continuity. Some information is for local United Ways only, but most is open for everyone.
Text PACOVID to 898-211 to sign up to receive texts from PA 211, to include:
Access to resources that can help you meet your basic needs (bills, food, housing), breaking news, and guidance on federal and state relief legislation.