LVFPC COVID-19 Preparedness & Response

Updated May 1, 2021

During this uncertain time for all of us, the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council is doing our part to help ensure the health, safety, and food security of our communities. We’re focused on the needs of our partners and the people we serve, as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to come. We’re incredibly thankful for the outreach from our community wanting to support these efforts!

We don’t yet know the long term impact COVID-19 will have, but as always, we are here for the long haul. LVFPC is committed to food access, robust local food production, and a thriving local food economy , and we’re very thankful for the trust that’s placed in us.

Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council Provides Guidelines for Pandemic Food Security

May 1, 2021

Bethlehem, PA, May 1, 2021 — The Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council thanks our many partners for their collaboration and response to our survey in preparing this report on local resilience and steps to maintain local food security and support the local food system during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidance in this report include lessons learned that will be useful in preparing for and responding to any future disaster. A strong and resilient local food system provides the underpinnings for healthy, resilient, and strong communities.

Lehigh Valley Food Providers Guidance During a Pandemic

Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council Welcomes Passage of Coronavirus Response Bill & the American Rescue Act

May 1, 2021

Bethlehem, PA, May 1, 2021 — The Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council commends the timely bipartisan negotiation and passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act  and the American Rescue Act.  The legislation provides authorization and funding for extensive relief due to the COVID-19 health crisis in the United States.

“Fear, anxiety, and despair have been expressed by many facing a loss of access to food on a regular basis, including seniors and families, and so the quick bipartisan support to pass the bill is deeply appreciated,” stated Susan Dalandan, Coordinator of the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council.  “It is a critical time for members of our community facing health and economic uncertainty. We believe this legislation will assist in bringing some relief for those who are most affected by the immediate impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.”

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes critical funding and flexibilities for programs essential to food insecure individuals and families. Provisions include:  $500 million to the Supplemental Nutrition Program For Women, Infants and Children (WIC); $400 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which is essential for the nation’s network of food banks; and $250 million to the Senior Nutrition program that would expand home meal delivery to senior citizens. The bill provides flexibility for extended school shut-downs to continue meal service to kids who would normally receive free and reduced lunch.  Important provisions include improvements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), primarily the suspension of work requirements for beneficiaries during the health crisis and permissions for states to seek waivers for flexibility in providing SNAP benefits to impacted individuals. The American Rescue Act extended many of those benefits and expanded assistance to those who may have missed out on early benefits.

“We are so grateful for this quick action taken by Congress in collaboration with the White House,” added Dalandan. “We urge legislators and members of the Administration to consider the impacts of poverty and hunger as well as the needs of our businesses as additional stimulus packages are considered.”

LVFPC Members and Partners,

We have encouraging news from D.C. that could be a game-changer. Yet we want let you know there is lots of work yet to be done in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

These bills are an important first step to provide relief to those most vulnerable to and impacted by Covid-19 (see LVFPC statement below).

We need your help to make sure this law fulfills its potential! Please call your Members of Congress to thank them for supporting the passage of FFCRA and the American Rescue Act!  See who voted for the bills in the House and Senate.

We have seen the weaknesses in the effort to extend school meal options to free and reduced eligible children though the Summer Food Service Program.  State agencies needed to enact federal waivers so that programs can be more effective. We ask that you thank Governor Wolf   for the state’s use of the waivers and authority in FFCRA and the American Rescue Act to the fullest extent possible to help people in need!

  1. If you are on the front lines and serving those in poverty and facing hunger, please thank state officials for unlocking the flexibility you needed to serve people in this time of need. They need to hear from you to thank and encourage them for their untiring efforts!
  2. Some of the changes State administrators  requested based on FFCRA and the American Rescue Act include:
  • Providing emergency Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) food assistance to households with children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals if not for their schools being closed due to the COVID-19 emergency. In order to be eligible, the child’s school must be closed for no less than 5 consecutive days. This change would ease community burden and fear if enacted statewide in this pandemic crisis.
  • Providing temporary, emergency CR-SNAP benefits to existing SNAP households up to the maximum monthly allotment based on household size.
  • Providing much more flexibility for States in managing SNAP caseloads.

Congress is currently discussing additional legislation to boost the economy.  The Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council and its members continue to advocate for relief for food access and support for local food sustainability as a top priority and we will update you with additional news.