Second Harvest Offers SNAP Assistance to Families in Need
Local food bank will assist families in applying for nutrition benefits in light of COVID-19 crisis.
With the unemployment rate in the U.S. and Pennsylvania rising to its highest level since the Great Depression, millions of Americans have found themselves relying on food banks due to the COVID-19 crisis.
In turn, the crisis is putting more Pennsylvanians at risk of food insecurity. A record 1.8 million Pennsylvania residents have filed for unemployment since March 15, and while the state is slowly reopening, returning to work isn't guaranteed for all.
The Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania announced May 8 that it is offering SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits) assistance to families in need during this time. It also urges those in need to reach out to the organization for food assistance.
The food bank has been met with an unprecedented need for food assistance due to the crisis, Karen Seggi, CEO of Second Harvest, said in a statement.
"The crisis has required a massive response across our network," Seggi said. "Many people may, for the first time in their lives, be wondering how they're going to pay for their groceries. Second Harvest is here to help."
SNAP, formerly known as "food stamps," offers nutrition benefits to eligible low-income individuals and families, as well as provides economic benefits to communities. It is the largest federal program fighting food insecurity in the hunger safety net.
SNAP recipients are allocated a specific dollar amount, depending on income guidelines, which is loaded onto a debit card, allowing them the freedom to choose what they eat.
Second Harvest employs a full-time SNAP Outreach Coordinator, Linda Kessler, who provides pre-screening and application assistance for those in need of benefits.
According to Kessler, participating in SNAP can greatly benefit recipients by providing them with adequate nutrition they may not get otherwise.
"Research shows that participating in SNAP plays a critical role in alleviating food insecurity and improving dietary intake and health."
Those facing hunger are encouraged to call Second Harvest at 814-459-3663 x 118 to find out if they qualify for SNAP benefits. To find additional services offered by Second Harvest, visit nwpafoodbank.org.