PHILADELPHIA, July 7 Thousands of Philadelphia senior citizens living on limited incomes could receive help paying for nutritious food under a pilot project involving federal, state and local partners, Pennsylvania Secretary of Public Welfare Harriet Dichter announced today.
"Many older adults are struggling to buy nutritious foods on a tight budget, but they may not be aware assistance is available," Secretary Dichter said. "This pilot project will help identify and reach out to those seniors to help them receive the fullest benefits for which they are eligible."
The pilot project will increase participation in the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, by using innovative technology to identify Philadelphia seniors who are eligible for SNAP benefits but do not currently receive them.
The two-year effort, BenePhilly Enrollment Project, will be funded by a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service.
State and local partners, including DPW Deputy Secretary for Income Maintenance Linda Blanchette, announced the pilot program during a news conference today at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market, a site where seniors and others can purchase fresh, local food using their SNAP benefits.
"The ability to afford fresh, nutritious foods is vital to the overall health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians, but it is particularly important to older Pennsylvanians who often have specific dietary needs and limited financial resources," Blanchette said. "When we make good food affordable to older adults, we are improving their quality of life and helping them to stay independent."
It is estimated that up to 5,000 Philadelphia seniors could benefit from the effort, she added.
The City of Philadelphia and DPW will work with local non-profits including the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and Benefits Data Trust to implement the pilot.
For more information on services available to Pennsylvanians, visit DPW online at www.dpw.state.pa.us. Pennsylvanians can also find information about the state's available social services at www.COMPASS.state.pa.us or by calling 1-800-986-2229.
Media contact: Beth Myers, 717-787-4592
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare