Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative is partnering with family shelters, YMCAs, and immigrant-led organizations across the state to reach up to 30,000 Maine children by the end of September.
Earlier this month, Preble Street received a $95,000 Community Nutrition grant from No Kid Hungry to ensure that children and families experiencing homelessness, immigrant families, and families with children under the age of six are enrolled in the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) and Summer P-EBT programs. In a time when hunger is on the rise ― Feeding America estimates 1 in 5 Maine children are currently experiencing food insecurity ― these programs provide families with supplemental income for food.
The plan for this outreach and enrollment project came out of a collaboration between Preble Street and fellow members of the Maine SNAP Alliance, including Full Plates Full Potential, Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine Children’s Alliance, and Maine Equal Justice.
“There are about 100,000 children in Maine who are eligible to receive this benefit, and 70,000 will receive it automatically because they are already enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),” said Donna Yellen, Preble Street Deputy Director. “That means there are 30,000 children whose families need to enroll separately for the P-EBT and Summer P-EBT programs, and many of them are not even aware this benefit is available. Our goal is to reach as many of them as possible. We are so thankful to No Kid Hungry and our partners around the state for helping us make sure families with children in Maine have enough food to put on the table.”
Using the grant funds, Preble Street is conducting its own outreach and enrollment in southern Maine and has subcontracted five family shelters and four YMCAs (Bangor Region YMCA, YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston, YMCA of Greater Waterville, and YMCA of Southern ME) to conduct outreach and enroll families throughout the state. They are also providing $10,000 to support immigrant-led organizations in enrolling immigrant and refugee families into these assistance programs ― a population especially vulnerable to poverty and hunger and who are less aware of these benefits due to language and cultural barriers. Preble Street has translated outreach documents into eight different languages for this purpose, and has partnered with Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition and Amjambo Africa to notify immigrant-led organizations of this funding opportunity.