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Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians of Food Assistance Programs and Resources, Encourages Volunteerism to Keep Life-Sustaining Food Services Available

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 24, 2020

Wolf Administration Reminds Pennsylvanians of Food Assistance Programs and Resources, Encourages Volunteerism to Keep Life-Sustaining Food Services Available

Harrisburg, PA – The Wolf Administration today reminded Pennsylvanians of food assistance resources available and what actions it is taking to ensure access to food does not stop in spite of the COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

“Life has slowed and it has changed, but it has not stopped for the millions of Pennsylvanians who depend on food assistance programs. We know that this pandemic has caused many people and families to find that they are suddenly food insecure and require assistance,” said Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller. “The Wolf Administration is doing everything it can to ensure that everyone’s food security needs in the commonwealth are met during this uncertain time.” 

Pennsylvanians who need help feeding themselves or their family should find and contact their local food bank or pantry through Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania.

DHS is continuing to process applications and benefit renewals for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  Emergency SNAP applications can be expedited and issued in five days. Pennsylvanians can apply for SNAP online at www.compass.state.pa.us.

DHS will continue to process application and renewal benefits, so people should continue to send in paperwork as usual. But, for anyone currently on SNAP who misses a deadline, who is not able to submit the paperwork or complete an interview or provide verifications for any reason during this emergency, DHS will ensure their SNAP benefit continues. DHS submitted a waiver request to the federal Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to ensure this continuity in benefits. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has provided resources for Pennsylvanians to access emergency food assistance during COVID-19 mitigation, including locations of food banks and food pantries that are assisting individuals and families during this time. And to ensure that food banks and community feeding organizations remain operable with healthy volunteers, the department provided guidance for ways to limit contact while providing their essential services.

“Quite simply, no Pennsylvanian should ever go hungry. Especially during this disruptive time of COVID-19 mitigation efforts,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “We’ve worked hard to provide guidance to the agriculture industry to ensure that healthy food continues to flow to grocery stores and food banks; and guidance for those who volunteer their time at banks to do so safely, protecting their health and the health of those who come for assistance.” 

The Wolf Administration also asks that anyone who is healthy and able please consider volunteering with a local food bank or registering for the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Pennsylvania, as this time is creating an incredible strain on charitable organizations’ efforts. United Way of Pennsylvania’s 211 website is also compiling organizations that need volunteers or resources so their work can continue.

Amidst Governor Wolf’s continued, aggressive mitigation efforts – including the state-wide closure of non-life-sustaining businesses and the recent Stay at Home order issued for seven Pennsylvania counties – the work being done by our food banks and their volunteers is life-sustaining and must continue. The orders do not prohibit food banks and their volunteers from offering food services, nor do they prohibit school districts from offering food services to children during the statewide school closure. Schools and school districts may continue to bring in essential employees involved in the preparation and distribution of meals for children. 

The emergency Feeding Taskforce, which consists of state agencies, charitable food networks, food retailers, and other partners and stakeholders, is working to identify available resources and provide food and water to communities in need; including ensuring school age children, older adults and others experiencing food insecurity are provided with nourishing meals.

Businesses who have resources to help feed and shelter Pennsylvanians in need are encouraged to fill out this survey to assist the task force as they look to direct resources. Any Pennsylvanian who is suddenly in need of food should complete this survey so the task force can better understand where resources should be directed.

“We need to be sure our charitable food networks are able to continue their daily operations and meeting the need of their communities, so if you are healthy and able, please contact your local food bank to get involved and help you neighbors and community during this time of great need,” said Secretary Miller. 

Visit the PA Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19.

Guidance to DHS providers related to COVID-19 is available here. Information and guidance as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania is available here.

MEDIA CONTACT:    Erin James, DHS - 717-425-7606

Shannon Powers, Agriculture – 717-783-2628

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Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Issue ‘Stay at Home’ Orders to 7 Counties to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19

Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Issue ‘Stay at Home’ Orders to 7 Counties to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19

March 23, 2020

Order Effective at 8:00 PM in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties

Governor Wolf’s Order
Secretary of Health’s Order
Stay at Home Guidance

Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today issued “Stay at Home” orders to Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties, as the state seeks relief to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.

This order takes effect at 8:00 PM on Monday, March 23, 2020, and will continue until April 6, 2020.

All schools statewide will also remain closed through at least April 6, 2020.

“I remain deeply concerned about this public health crisis and we must continue to take careful but critical steps now to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Gov. Wolf said. “We are issuing these orders because Pennsylvanians’ health and safety remains our highest priority.”

“The number of cases continues to grow and so we must take further steps to stop the spread of this contagious and dangerous novel virus to protect the public’s health and mitigate the risk to our hospital system,” Dr. Levine said. “There is one way to make sure people don’t need to be hospitalized and we don’t strain our health care system: Stay calm. Stay home. Stay safe.”

Individuals may leave their residence only to perform any of the following allowable individual activities and allowable essential travel:

  • Tasks essential to maintain health and safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members (including pets), such as obtaining medicine or medical supplies, visiting a health care professional, or obtaining supplies they need to work from home
  • Getting necessary services or supplies for themselves, for their family or household members, or as part of volunteer efforts, or to deliver those services or supplies to others to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking or running if they maintain social distancing
  • To perform work providing essential products and services at a life-sustaining business
  • To care for a family member or pet in another household
  • Any travel related to the provision of or access to the above-mentioned individual activities or life-sustaining business activities
  • Travel to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities, or other vulnerable persons
  • Travel to or from educational institutions for purposes of receiving materials for distance learning, for receiving meals, and any other related services
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from an outside jurisdiction
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order.
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside the commonwealth

The following operations are exempt:

  • Life-sustaining business activities
  • Health care or medical services providers
  • Access to life-sustaining services for low-income residents, including food banks
  • Access to child care services for employees of life-sustaining businesses that remain open as follows: child care facilities operating under the Department of Human Services, Office of Child Development and Early Learning waiver process; group and family child care operating in a residence; and part-day school age programs operating under an exemption from the March 19, 2020 business closure Orders.
  • News media
  • Law enforcement
  • The federal government
  • Religious institutions

Individuals experiencing homelessness are not subject to this order but are strongly urged to find shelter and government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.

International students, foster youth, and any other students who would otherwise experience displacement or homelessness as a result of campus closures are exempt and may remain in campus housing.

At this time, law enforcement will be focused on ensuring that residents are aware of the order and informing the public of social distancing practices rather than enforcement. To report a noncompliant business, contact your local law enforcement agency’s non-emergency number or the nearest Pennsylvania State Police station. Please do not call 911 or the Department of Community and Economic Development to file reports. Law enforcement officers should refer to Business Closure Order Enforcement Guidance available online.

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should visit: https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/.

Pennsylvania Department of Education Extends School Closures through at least April 6

Pennsylvania Department of Education Extends School Closures through at least April 6

 March 23, 2020

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) announced today that all schools in the commonwealth will remain closed through at least April 6 as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts. The closure order could be extended beyond April 6 if necessary to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19. When it’s determined that students can return to school, administrators, teachers and other staff will be given two days to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return on the third day.

Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said his decision to close all schools for the additional period aligns with the governor’s stay-at-home directive announced today for seven counties – Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery and Philadelphia.

“Protecting the health and safety of students, families, teachers and all employees who work in our schools is paramount during this national health crisis and we must continue our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus,” he said. “The number of positive cases increases daily and we’re seeing it spread to more counties. We must adhere to the social distancing guidelines. Extending the closure will help every community in its efforts to mitigate the spread.”

Today’s additional school closure will be for 14 days, beginning Tuesday, March 24.

To assist schools during the extended closure, Secretary Rivera said the state’s 29 intermediate units are ready to provide technical assistance to help develop continuity of education plans for all students.

“We know students are eager to engage with their teachers and return to learning,” he said. “Beginning tomorrow, all schools will be able to work with their local intermediate unit to develop instructional plans for all students, including those with disabilities and English language learners.”

Also today, Secretary Rivera cancelled standardized testing for students in career and technical education (CTE) programs for the 2019-20 school year. These include exams from the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) and National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS).

Last Thursday the department cancelled all PSSA testing and Keystone exams for the 2019-20 school year, as well as the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA). The U.S. Department of Education approved Pennsylvania’s waiver request the following day, and further waived accountability and reporting requirements for the 2019-20 school year.

The department has been providing ongoing guidance to school communities in the form of FAQs. The guidance information is available at education.pa.gov/COVID19.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs please visit the Department of Education’s website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Eric Levis, 717-783-9802, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Governor, First Lady Wolf: Pennsylvania’s Food Supply is Reliable, Accessible, and Life-Sustaining

Governor, First Lady Wolf: Pennsylvania’s Food Supply is Reliable, Accessible, and Life-Sustaining

March 22, 2020

Wolf Administration Provides Information to Prevent Food Insecurity

Governor Tom Wolf and First Lady Frances Wolf reminded Pennsylvanians that grocery stores, food processors, and food banks remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic and the administration is working to expand resources for those who are food insecure. Pennsylvanians should feel confident in the food supply and shop for food at their normal rate.

“Even in a pandemic, grocery stores and food banks are life-sustaining and accessible; food production and distribution are continuing,” Governor Wolf said. “I urge all Pennsylvanians to have faith in our food system. If each one of us commits to only buy what we need; there will be enough for everyone and their neighbors.

“COVID-19 does not change the need for food production; but rather it highlights the importance of our essential agriculture industry for providing a safe, continuous food supply,” Wolf said. “I’m incredibly proud of and grateful for this dedicated industry. These times will pass; but in the meantime, you can know that they’re working hard and making smart decisions to fill the shelves of your local grocer.”

Earlier this week the department issued guidance for those in the business of food production and distribution to continue their life-sustaining work while also taking every necessary precaution to protect their workforce from COVID-19. In addition to guidance for the agriculture industry and its distribution network, recommendations were issued for grocery stores to protect both their critical employees and the public.

The following guidance was issued to ensure a safe, reliable, and accessible food supply for all Pennsylvanians:

Further, the following guidance is available for those who are food insecure and organizations that provide for the food insecure.

“Pennsylvania’s charitable food network plays an invaluable role in supporting our communities, and as we all do our part to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, this work is more important than ever,” said First Lady Frances Wolf. “Those of us who are fortunate enough to know where our next meal will come from must consider donating our resources or time to supporting our local food banks to ensure that no Pennsylvanian goes hungry – now or ever.”

For information and guidance as it relates to agriculture during COVID-19 mitigation in Pennsylvania visit agriculture.pa.gov/COVID. For the most accurate, timely information related to Health in Pennsylvania, visit on.pa.gov/coronavirus.

March 22, 2020

WAIVER EXTENSION, REVISED TIMING OF ENFORCEMENT: Monday, March 23 at 8:00 AM

WAIVER EXTENSION, REVISED TIMING OF ENFORCEMENT: Monday, March 23 at 8:00 AM
Updated Business Guidance
Business Waiver Application Form
FAQ on Business Guidance

 

Harrisburg, PA – Due to the high volume of waiver requests, the Wolf Administration is delaying enforcement of Governor Tom Wolf’s order and the Secretary of Health’s order that all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania must close their physical locations to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Per Governor Wolf’s and Dr. Levine’s orders, businesses that were non-life sustaining were ordered to close their physical locations on March 19, at 8:00 PM. This order stands, only the enforcement timing will change and become effective on Monday, March 23, at 8:00 AM.

Those businesses requesting clarification on whether they are defined as life-sustaining should check this list, email the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) customer service resource account at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH and select option 1 to reach DCED staff. For businesses that determine from the list that they are non-life sustaining, but would like to seek a waiver, there is an online waiver application.

When a business completes a waiver form, a team of professionals at DCED will review each request and respond based on the guiding principle of balancing public safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical infrastructure services and functions. Those requesting a waiver will be notified via email if their operations may re-open. Businesses applying for a waiver must remain closed until a decision is made about their application.

DCED offers working capital loans that could be of assistance to businesses impacted by COVID-19. Resources and information will be posted to https://dced.pa.gov/resources as they become available. Yesterday, Governor Wolf announced the availability of low-interest loans for small businesses and eligible non-profits in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, Pennsylvanians should follow www.governor.pa.gov and www.doh.pa.gov.

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