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Holy Family Institute Helps Families Gain Access To Federal Food Program

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (May 30, 2017) -- Holy Family Institute has received $40,000 to help families gain access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The funding comes, for the third year in a row, from the Walmart Foundation, via a larger national grant to Catholic Charities USA. Holy Family Institute will use the funds to educate and raise awareness about SNAP and to help enroll eligible families.

SNAP, formerly known as the food stamps program, is a federal program dedicated to alleviating hunger and improving access to healthy foods. The program is administered in Pennsylvania by the state Department of Human Services. Holy Family will help expand online SNAP applications in Allegheny, Armstrong and Beaver counties through its client work with individuals seeking energy assistance through the Holy Family Duquesne Light Universal Services Program, which served 37,176 households last year. The social services organization is the only one in western Pennsylvania to receive funds to promote SNAP. Other tri-state region locations expanding SNAP are Allentown, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and towns in West Virginia. 

“As individuals in need work towards self-sufficiency, all of us – government, charities, communities, health systems, individuals – need to help with nutrition assistance,” says Holy Family Institute President and CEO Sister Linda Yankoski. “Children and veterans are two of the populations of SNAP recipients, and eligibility is reviewed with families as they seek other local services when basic needs are not being met. By facilitating SNAP through Holy Family case management offices, we become a bridge for comprehensive community action.”

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 farmer’s markets. With the exception of prepared foods, SNAP may be used to purchase any food, 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. The program also addresses food emergency situations. 

Yankoski noted that Walmart’s support of SNAP is only one part of their campaign to bring fresh, healthy food into low-income households. As the world's largest distributor of food, the retailer is best positioned help address nutrition, urban food deserts, and stocking local food banks, among other efforts. 

“We should all consider how companies, organizations, and communities can come together to tackle these multi-faceted human-services issues,” says Yankoski. “It takes participation from everyone for the greatest impact to be made, and Holy Family appreciates the tremendous support of Walmart Foundation and Catholic Charities USA with their concentrated efforts in western Pennsylvania these past few years.”

Catholic Charities is one of 43 partners of the Walmart Foundation’s SNAP enrollment campaign. Last year Catholic Charities helped more than 17,500 households nationwide. 

Holy Family associates supporting SNAP education and enrollment are available 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 education and enrollment effort.

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About Holy Family Institute:  Holy Family Institute empowers children and families to lead responsible lives and develop healthy and meaningful relationships built on faith, hope and love; this mission drives the organization to help everyone who comes to its door. Founded in 1900 as an orphanage, Holy Family has evolved into a devoted social services provider for the Pittsburgh region, connecting individuals and families to services and resources that help them meet immediate and long-term needs for a sustainably improved future. The organization’s more than 25 programs include mental health, behavioral health, specialized learning, community-based family support services, substance abuse and addiction counseling, safe child visits, and energy assistance. The Institute serves individuals and families in homes, schools, and nine neighborhood centers in Allegheny, Indiana, Beaver, and Armstrong 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.

About Catholic Charities USA: Catholic Charities is a national organization that offers support to member agencies, provides disaster relief, and promotes poverty-reduction through research and legislative reform. Visit https://catholiccharitiesusa.org for more information.