People are struggling right now and our FoodSource Hotline counselors hear about it everyday while they help folks access the food they need.
As the only comprehensive statewide information and referral service in Massachusetts for people facing hunger, our FoodSource Hotline has become an invaluable resource during the COVID-19 crisis.
The number of calls we receive has increased fourfold over the last several weeks as more than half a million people have filed for unemployment in Massachusetts. 38% of MA residents are now experiencing food insecurity because of the impact of the coronavirus. This is unprecedented.
Below are a few of the stories our counselors have been hearing. While each is heartbreaking, we were able to give them the help they were seeking, making life just a little easier for those who are struggling. Words of thanks for this help are also below.
*Certain information has been removed for privacy.
What the Hotline Counselors are Hearing
"We got a call from a single mom in ----- who is a server in a restaurant/bar, doesn’t get paid much hourly but does really well for herself with tips. The restaurant had to close so she no longer has any income. She has applied for unemployment and is waiting to hear back."
"A two parent family from ----- called. They have one son who is disabled with Down's syndrome and is immunocompromised. They were already in a difficult position because the father was laid off at the very beginning of March and he is currently waiting for unemployment. However, their situation was exacerbated by coronavirus because the mother works for a cleaning service and many of her clients have been canceling cleaning visits. She is not sure when she will next be able work consistently again and if they will be able to pay their rent for April. Simultaneously, she is terrified that if she does go out into a business or home for her job, she risks bringing the illness back home to her son. They are trying to be cautious, but she’s at loss."
"A mom from ----- with a 3 week old baby who has been breastfeeding expressed her concern that she isn't producing enough milk. She walked to her nearest Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) office in hopes of being able to get some type of voucher for formula for the time being but the office was closed. She sounded defeated and did not know where else to turn."
Words of Thanks
"Thank you for letting me know about the additional benefits on my SNAP case. I didn't want to spend it and then not be able to pay it back later, case it was put on my card by mistake. There's a lot more on my card than usual and it definitely helps me out because I'm a senior. When you're on a fixed income, you don't want to make a choice between paying a bill and eating a little less, you know."- A senior in ----- talking about her Emergency SNAP benefits issued last week.
"Thank you for doing the SNAP application over the phone right away. Usually, my older son helps me out with the rent, but he can't work because of the coronavirus now. My disability benefits are not nearly enough for the rent and my younger son is still in high school and living with me."-A disabled household in ----- who did an over the phone application.
"I work as a Physical Therapy Assistant but I can't do anything right now because my client is stuck in school. I am still working 5 hours a week for a part-time job I have on the side. My husband was furloughed and now he's waiting on unemployment. We have four kids, between 3 years old and 18. Thank you for letting us know we are eligible for SNAP and telling us how to apply."- A caller from Boston.
Author(s): Project Bread