SVCF grant provides 17,000 meals to residents impacted by government shutdown

SVCF grant provides emergency food supplies to local residents impacted by government shutdown

The recent government shutdown that stretched for a record 35 days caused disruptions of all kinds, including for people receiving SNAP – or food stamps – benefits. To help ensure affected local families had the food they needed last month, SVCF made a grant to support the delivery of free meal kits. 

Because of the federal government shutdown that began on Dec. 22, 2018, SNAP food stamp benefits for February were deposited into people’s EBT accounts (electronic benefits transfer) in January, with no additional benefits expected until March in most states. 

This left many families across the country who rely on SNAP short on funds for food last month. According to Propel -- creator of the Fresh EBT app, which allows users to track their food stamp balance on their phones and is used by more than 2 million Americans each month -- data from the app indicated that 68 percent of Fresh EBT users had a balance under $10 in mid-February.

To help meet this need, Propel partnered with Full Cart, a nonprofit initiative of Feeding Children Everywhere, to send free food kits to families with low SNAP balances in February. Enough money was raised in two weeks to provide more than 500,000 meals to 12,000 families across the country.

In February, Silicon Valley Community Foundation made a grant to Propel to provide emergency food to families in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, where there are about 5,000 local users of the Fresh EBT app. Because of this grant, Propel was able to ship 345 boxes – each containing 50 meals – to families in Silicon Valley's two counties. The supplemental food kits contained shelf stable meals like pasta, macaroni and cheese and jambalaya to help tide families over during this challenging period.

“We are humbled by the outpouring of support from those who recognize this unique moment of need. At Propel, we’re focused on building technology to serve low-income Americans - and we can’t do that without working closely with the organizations and funders with a long history of leading the fight against poverty,” said Jimmy Chen, founder and CEO of Propel, thanking key contributors including Robin Hood Foundation, Omidyar Network, AARP Foundation, and SVCF.

Learn more about SVCF’s work to support financial stability for residents of Silicon Valley.