PITTSBURGH (June 1) — Holy Family Institute has received year two funding of $40,000 from the Walmart Foundation – via a larger national grant to Catholic Charities USA – to recruit and enroll eligible families into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the food stamps program (same service, new name). SNAP is a federal program administered in Pennsylvania by the Department of Human Services.
Holy Family will expand online SNAP application efforts in Allegheny, Armstrong and Beaver counties through its client work with individuals who seek help with the energy assistance Duquesne Light Universal Services Program. Last year, Holy Family served 37,012 households in the Duquesne Light program. The non-profit social services organization is the only one in western Pennsylvania to receive funds to help SNAP, which is viewed as a vital government program to alleviate hunger and poverty. Other tri-state region locations expanding SNAP are Allentown, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and towns in West Virginia.
“We know that anti-poverty and hunger advocates note that more than 160,000 people in Allegheny County use SNAP, particularly as they struggle against problems of underemployment and stagnant wages,” says Holy Family Institute President and CEO Sister Linda Yankoski. “Yet many people, who are eligible, still don’t utilize the benefit perhaps because they are not fully informed. For instance, individuals who do not have children are eligible too. We need to reach everyone, including immigrants. Suffering from temporary or chronic hunger is not good for any human.”
SNAP offers nutrition assistance to income-eligible individuals and families and provides economic benefits to communities. The safety net helps people purchase food at participating supermarkets, grocers, and farmers markets. Any food may be purchased with the exception of prepared foods, including seeds and plants used to grow food at home. If individuals are unable to cook, they can use SNAP benefits at participating restaurants. Some Meals on Wheels kitchens also accept the benefit card.
SNAP benefits are provided after assessment through a deduction checklist that includes information on a person’s household, income, resources, and household costs. The benefits are provided by an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card – a plastic swipe card that looks and is used like a credit or debit card. SNAP benefits are deposited monthly to EBT cards. Individuals are recertified for these benefits every 12 months and must report any household changes every six months. Food emergency situations also can be addressed.
Yankoski noted that current conversation regarding the SNAP program focuses on a White House report released in December 2015 suggesting that today’s benefit amounts are inadequate for households; and an increase needs discussed because evidence-based data shows the need and impact.
Holy Family Institute provided SNAP outreach to 2,445 people in its first grant year (2014-15), and enrolled 273. Regarding year two of the grant project, 1,201 individuals have received information on the program and 154 received application assistance (October to December 2015 data only).
Holy Family associates supporting SNAP enrollment are available to answer questions and help with the online application by calling (412) 361-2583; or visit http://www.hfi-pgh.org/what-we-do/utility-assistance/ to find a Holy Family Duquesne Light Universal Services office, which is facilitating the SNAP enrollment effort.
About Holy Family Institute: Holy Family Institute’s mission to empower children and families to lead responsible lives and develop healthy and meaningful relationships built on faith, hope, and love, drives the organization to help everyone who comes to its door. Founded in 1900 as an orphanage for children, Holy Family has evolved as a devoted social services provider for the Pittsburgh region, helping individuals and families receive services or access resources that will assist them in meeting immediate and long-term needs for a better, sustainable future. More than 20 programs include mental health, behavioral health, early intervention, specialized learning, community-based family support services, substance abuse and addiction counseling, safe child visits, and energy assistance, as well as other services. The Institute serves individuals and families in homes, schools, and nine neighborhood centers in Allegheny, Indiana, Beaver, Armstrong, and Butler counties. Visit www.hfi-pgh.org for more information.
About Philanthropy at Walmart: It is the mission of the Walmart Foundation to create opportunities so people can live better. It is the responsibility of the Walmart Foundation to make a positive impact in the communities they serve. Whether it is through grants or inspiring volunteer efforts of Walmart associates, the Foundation is passionate about helping people live better, one community at a time. Visit http://foundation.walmart.com for more information.