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May 13, 2020
MAY 2020 COVID-19 Response Updates: Where We Stand

We continue to be focused on our programmatic response to COVID-19 in a rapidly changing landscape. Keep checking back throughout the month for more updates, but as of today, here is where we stand.

Project Bread is working around the clock —at the individual, community, and state levels—to respond to the needs of our community and ensure no one goes hungry during this period of public health and economic crisis. 

Here are the latest updates for the month of MAY to our rapid response to the COVID-19 crisis, severely impacting food insecurity both nationally and in Massachusetts.

How you can help→ Please Donate!

Policy/Advocacy

(Read about our complete Covid-19 policy agenda, or to become involved with our advocacy work, please join our Action Team.)

  • Monday, May 18 through Friday, May 22 2020: 
    • Advocacy: 
      • We continue to work on advocacy efforts around the area eligibility waiver for school meals sites. We are finalizing a letter from PB, the food banks and MLRI to Gov Baker, which will go out today (Tuesday) and are lining up a Senate and House office to lead on a legislative letter to USDA.
    • Federal: 
      • The senate has yet to take up the HEROES Act or any legislation addressing the issues contained in the HEROES Act.
  • Monday, May 4 through Friday, May 8 2020: 

Project Bread’s public policy and advocacy team: 

    • Joined members of the MA House of Representatives on a webinar hosted by the House COVID-19 working group to discuss options available to their constituents who are experiencing food insecurity, including emergency SNAP, Pandemic-EBT and school meal sites. 
    • Participated in the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition’s Immigrants’ Day virtual event, focused on ensuring an equitable and inclusive state response to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Friday, May 1, 2020: 
    • We had 110 participants in last night’s town hall with Senator Elizabeth Warren. A warm thank you to our panelists who asked thoughtful questions and offered diverse perspectives on the challenges residents are facing accessing food in Massachusetts. 
    • We reached out to all of the MA Members of Congress asking for their support on a Dear Colleague letter to USDA asking that they extend all waivers through the summer and make all waiver requests received so far that strengthen and expand child nutrition programs nationwide, including area eligibility.

    Programs

    FoodSource Hotline

    • Monday, May 18 through Friday, May 22 2020: 
      • Last week, we took a total of 2,210 calls, more calls than we typically have in a month. 75% of the calls are P-EBT related.
    • Monday, May 4 through Friday, May 8, 2020: 
      • Took a total of 1,805 calls. Of these, 1,285 were P-EBT related. We also completed 254 SNAP prescreens. We received 451 calls from Boston, including 26 households requesting delivery. We completed 55 SNAP pre-screens.
    • Saturday, May 2, 2020: 
      • Today we had 55 calls, 29 were P-EBT calls.
    • Friday, May 1, 2020: 
      • Today we had 252 calls - 147 were P-EBT calls and 47 were SNAP pre-screens. We had 66 calls from Boston - 40 P-EBT calls, 15 SNAP calls, and 6 requesting food delivery.

School Meal Sites

    • Monday, May 4 through Friday, May 8, 2020: 

The Child Nutrition Outreach team spoke to nearly 40 sponsors last week. Below are the top trends they are hearing. 

      • Participation is increasing as weather improves and also as need continues to rise. 
        • For example, at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club - 20% more meals are being picked up on warmer days. And more families come together to get the meals on warmer days. – “It’s scary how much the need continues to rise,” Erica Young, Exec. Dir. reports. 
      • Districts need waiver information in order to plan for the summer. 
        • West Springfield has not planned for anything specifically yet, though they still plan to serve meals. Belchertown says they are waiting for guidance from DESE but plan to continue a grab and go model. 
      • Even without waiver, sponsors and schools believe that there will be social distancing for the summer which will most likely change the service model to Grab & Go. They are worried about costs associated with this change. 
        • Salem Public Schools uses 6 buses for distribution of meals. The buses are on a school year contract, so Salem can't afford to pay for the buses, gas, drivers and monitors for the summer months. Do they cut the number of buses? The time at each stop? Either way, fewer kids will get meals. 
      • In the meantime, schools are planning to look at their CEP numbers in the coming weeks and determine if they can add schools to their CEP programs. 
      • Greenfield Public Schools and Leominster are already determining if new applications for individual schools or the entire district make sense.

Health Care Partnerships

    • Monday, May 4 through Friday, May 8, 2020: 
      • In partnership with the accountable care organization C3 (Community Care Cooperative), our team has received a total of 321 patient referrals through the Flexible Services program. Last week, this included an additional 69 patients. These patients, who have been screened positive for food insecurity, receive a gift card for a local grocery store, and are referred to a comprehensive set of food resources including SNAP, other federal nutrition programs, and community food programs. Of the 84 patients who have received an initial assessment, 52 have been referred to the FoodSource Hotline for SNAP screening and application assistance. 

      For additional information on our Programs, please contact info@projectbread.org.

Author(s): Project Bread

Filed under: Informing Public Policy, News and Events, Children and Schools, FoodSource, General, Poverty, The Walk for Hunger, For the Media, Ways to Give