Poverty: Lacking even the basics.
Nearly half of all Chester children under the age of five live in poverty; overall, 35 percent of Chester residents fall below the poverty line.
Basics like food and shelter are priority number one for families living in poverty. Out of the twelve food centers that belong to the Delco Interfaith Food Assistance Network (DIFAN), five are located in Chester alone. Chester Eastside’s Food Ministry is one of the largest DIFAN programs, serving on average 600 people per month, a fourth of them children.
U.S. food stamp funds cut, then cut again.
Last November, 47 million Americans, including 22 million children, saw their federal food stamps reduced under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). For a family of three, that amounted to a loss of $29 a month.
Then in February, Congress passed a farm bill that would lop another $8.7 billion off SNAP in the coming decade. As a result, 400,000 households in Pennsylvania stood to lose another $60-65 a month on average. Help for those Pennsylvania households came from an unexpected source: Governor Tom Corbett moved to restore SNAP money; he had previously sought to limit access to food stamps.
When food stamps are cut, food cupboards feel the pinch.
When funds for things like food stamps are reduced, more people are forced to turn to food cupboards like the one at Chester Eastside. The resources needed to run the Food Ministry at Chester Eastside come from a number of sources. DIFAN is one. TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program, a federal program) is another. But an essential part of the mix is the generous donations of food from area churches.
It’s not just food that makes the Food Ministry work. People from Chester and nearby suburbs give many hours of their time as volunteers every Monday and Wednesday morning, helping to operate the program. Without them, we would have a hard time providing this urgently needed service.
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• Meeting basic human needs
• Helping people of all ages be all that they can be
• Working for a more just society