Philadelphia will offer at least ten free training workshops in the coming months to meal servers and staff to help them respond to changes in food service laws.

Starting April 1, the federal government’s Supplemental Nutition Assistance Program will adopt new rules affecting able-bodied adults with dependents. These adults who receive food assistance will have to work at least twenty hours per week or volunteer 26 hours per month in order to continue receiving assistance.

Katie Dockhorn is the Food Access Manager for City of Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services. Her initiative to offer free training workshops, she said, is a response to the changes in SNAP. She expects an increase in visitors to meal providers around Philadelphia.

Katie Dockhorn, Food Access Manager

“Meal providers have requested additional training on fundraising, grant writing, non-profit financial management and homelessness outreach,” Dockhorn said.

These trainings will equally focus on services most requested by guests. According to a recent survey conducted by Philadelphia Food Access Collaborative Dashboard, those services are basic needs such as toiletries, clothing, housing assistance, employment and ID-related help.

Mara O’Connell from the Office of Homeless and Food Services said it is important for the people who serve food to be ready in order to provide high-quality service to those in need.

Mara O’Connell from the Philadelphia Office of Homeless and Food Services

“Our purpose is to increase access to free food that is served in safe and dignified settings,” O’Connell said, “to improve nutritional quality of food distributed at meal sites, and to increase access to social and health services through food providers.”

Eventually, tap water will be included in the workshop program by the Philadelphia Water Department. The purpose of the tap water initiative is to help low income folks save money instead of purchasing bottled water.

Hailey Stern from the Philadelphia Water Department said she wishes meal sites could equally make their pledge towards promoting tap water.

Hailey Stern from the Philadelphia Water Department

“Lower income, minority residents, of lower level education, purchase bottled water instead of drinking tap water,” Stern said. “So, what we are working on is a campaign and initiative to promote tap water in Philadelphia. We train community leaders to go and train their friends, their neighbors, as well as a lot of partnership development within the city and other larger organizations to promote tap water where we can.”



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