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Congress funnels millions of dollars into Pennsylvania to provide delivery, take-out options for seniors during coronavirus pandemic

Many seniors already suffer from food insecurity, which could be made worse by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Seniors that rely on food assistance are not able to stock up during the coronavirus outbreak, and some older adults do not have access to grocery stores. Pennsylvania is receiving $10.2 million in federal funding to help communities provide meals for seniors.

The grant is part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which secured $250 million for the federal Senior Nutrition Program.

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This funding will help existing programs in Pennsylvania provide delivery and take-out options to seniors, who may be suffering from food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.

“A lot of the senior centers, their meals were congregate. Now, they have to switch over to either take-out meals or home delivered meals,” said Robert Torres, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Aging. “The additional funding is to help with the added expenses and for expanding services.”

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Of the $10.2 million, $6.8 million will support meals to seniors in their homes through Meals on Wheels and $3.4 million will support congregate meals.

“We want to make sure that if someone is in need of food assistance, that that can be done through an authorization of a new process,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey.

The democratic congressman is pushing for a partnership between USDA and SNAP retailers, urging grocery and retail associations to accept SNAP benefits for delivery.

“You can do that by using the EBT card,” explained Senator Casey. “You can swipe either at the grocery store or at the person's house. We`re trying to do as much as we can with the existing program, but also add more dollars and new authorization.”

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The need for these services, especially home-delivered and packaged meals, has only increased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. To find the local agency that can connect you with these resources, click here.