With limited in-person visits, our Housing staff have had to find new ways to connect with and support our participants. COVID-19 has made it particularly difficult to apply for or renew benefits like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). With offices closed, limited hours, and slower processing times, many people are at risk of losing these benefits. Participants living in food deserts or areas affected by recent uprisings and protests can also have trouble even accessing a grocery store.

Our staff have found different ways to make sure our participants have enough to eat. In addition to helping with benefit applications, our case managers provide nutritional support in other ways. Participants are welcome at Inspiration Cafe’s to-go meals, but for many who live on the South or West sides, it is too difficult to make it all the way to Uptown. This spring, a partnership with Top Box Foods provided over 50 households with vouchers to select food packages to be delivered.

Greg was about to start a new job at a restaurant when the pandemic hit Chicago. Not being able to start this job meant that he was falling behind on rent. His case manager helped him file his taxes and apply for unemployment. While the money he received helped him catch up on rent and other bills, food was still an issue. Greg received one of the Top Box Foods vouchers and was happy to have meat, vegetables, and fruit delivered to his home.

Case managers often go above and beyond expectations to support their participants. Participants that have specific health and dietary issues often have trouble accessing food. This was a serious concern for a younger participant with end-stage kidney disease. The recommended diet is restricted and often requires food that is relatively expensive. Their case manager advocated for them and was able to negotiate a lower rent obligation, secure additional SNAP resources, and assist with dietary planning. This case manager not only worked with a dietician to understand the requirements, but provided approved recipes and helpful guides. She also worked with the participant to figure out how to get the most out of their budget. This support also included a guided grocery shopping trip to put what they learned into action.

Hunger is still an issue in this country and may increase over the coming months. Our case managers have the experience and knowledge to help our participants meet their food needs. We work with our participants to find solutions to serious problems, like hunger.

Please consider making a gift today and help us continue to provide Greg, and all of those we serve, with food and support during this difficult time.