Just Harvest ramps up Food Stamp Assistance Program
March 24, 2020
In response to increased need due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its economic impacts, Just Harvest has increased staff working on its program to help people with SNAP/food stamps, medical, and TANF/cash assistance applications as well as case advocacy and eligibility screenings. The program is available to Allegheny County residents experiencing poverty or who are just above the poverty line.
As reported at TribLive.com on March 22, Christopher Briem, a research economist with the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social & Urban Research, estimates a minimum of about 515,000, or 46 percent, of the 1.3 million workers in the seven-county Pittsburgh region will be directly impacted by Gov. Tom Wolf's order to close nonessential businesses. National economists are predicting an unemployment rate approaching 30 percent in the coming months.
Last week, Just Harvest food stamp applications jumped by 50 percent above their average, with more in March than any month in the prior 2½ years. Organization staff predict they are likely just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
"In the best of times, our commonwealth and country lack adequate worker protections -- like paid sick leave, family medical leave, and a strong, accessible safety net for those who can't work. Especially during this massive upheaval, we ask all concerned citizens to join us in urging officials at all levels of government to make the needs of low-wage and displaced workers, people of color, and other vulnerable people priority one. Not corporate bailouts; not airline subsidies, not protecting Wall Street investors," said Ken Regal, executive director of Just Harvest.
Those needing assistance in obtaining food, medical, and cash assistance benefits or who are uncertain whether they qualify should call Just Harvest at 412-431-8960 x602 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Callers should leave their name and contact info and the best time to reach them or by filling out the form on http://www.justharvest.org/food-stamps-help. Just Harvest staff are working from home; callers should expect to receive a call back within 48 hours.