The WIC Budget Shortfall

How It Will Impact Pennsylvanians, And What You Can Do About It

Introduction:


If Congress fails to act by January 19, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) will face a budget shortfall that could result in 2 million eligible families nationwide being turned away from the program. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) As an organization dedicated to providing essential services to vulnerable communities, BCHG is deeply concerned about the potential ramifications of the budget shortfall on the individuals and families utilizing our food program.

The WIC Program and The Budget Shortfall:


WIC is a crucial federal assistance program that provides nutrition education, healthy food, and support to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and young children. (USDA) Currently, the WIC program serves about half of all infants born in the United States. Unfortunately, the budget that Congress is currently considering will fund the program at a $1 billion shortfall. The shortfall will cost the same amount as funding six months of benefits to all pregnant women and infants participating in WIC. (USDA) Individual states will likely create waitlists to join the program as a result of the shortfall, and several eligible families will be turned away from receiving the assistance they need.

What this Means for Pennsylvania:

The WIC budget shortfall is projected to impact 51,000 Pennsylvanians by September 2024. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) To avoid such a stark impact, the USDA may choose to reallocate funding from their other programs toward WIC, but there is no guarantee that this will be feasible. There will likely also be a long-lasting impact on the perception of the WIC program. Turning eligible participants away due to inadequate funding will likely discourage people from applying in the future.

Impact on Our Food Pantries:


Our pantries and mobile markets are vital resources for those in need, offering a safe and reliable source of food in times of economic hardship. The potential increase in demand due to the WIC budget shortfall will place additional strain on these essential services. We anticipate welcoming new families to our pantries and mobile markets as a result of the shortfall. Demand for produce, milk, eggs, baby formula, and diapers will also likely increase. Finally, we anticipate an increase in the need for families who are already utilizing our programs. The level of support WIC will provide to those already on their programs is uncertain, so their need for food from our programs may increase.

How You Can Help:

  1. Contact Your Representatives:
    Use the form here to contact your elected representatives. Be an advocate for policies that prioritize the well-being of pregnant women, new mothers, and young children.
  2. Spread the Word:
    Share this blog, our website, and our social media with your network to help spread awareness about the WIC budget shortfall. as well as the resources that BCHG provides to combat food and housing security.
  3. Donate to BCHG:
    Monetary support and food donations make a significant difference in our ability to meet increased demand at our food pantries. Support our mission by donating to our cause to help us prepare for the influx of patrons at our pantries.
  4. Volunteer Your Time:
    Offer your time and skills to assist at BCHG’s food pantries or other programs. Volunteering is a hands-on way to contribute to the community and support vulnerable individuals and families.
  5. Organize Food Drives:
    Coordinate food drives with local businesses, schools, and community groups. Collecting non-perishable items can help ensure that our food pantries remain well-stocked to meet the growing demand.

Conclusion:


The WIC budget shortfall is a challenge that will require collective action and community support. By raising awareness, advocating for policy change, and contributing to organizations like ours, we can make a positive impact on the lives of those facing food insecurity. Together, let’s ensure that every individual has access to the nutrition and support they need for a healthy future.

Written By: Amanda McGill

Reflecting on 2023 and Looking Ahead to the New Year

Welcome to BCHG‘s 2023 Wrapped: Our Year in Review! As we bid farewell to another eventful year, it’s time to reflect on the milestones, achievements, challenges, and moments that defined the journey for Bucks County Housing Group over the past twelve months. From program expansion, partnerships new and old, and community engagement, join us as we delve into the highlights and pivotal events that shaped our path in 2023. Embrace the nostalgia and anticipation as we unwrap the story of our year—a narrative woven with progress, resilience, and the collective efforts of our team and supporters. Scroll through the slideshow below to check out some of our favorite moments from 2023:

We are excited about the new opportunities, challenges, and chances to grow coming in 2024. Thank you for your support and partnership with BCHG. Our work is only possible because of your dedication to our mission. We can’t wait to continue to close the door on hunger and homelessness with you in the new year.

Want more of our 2023 Wrapped? Check out the video below:

BCHG 2023 Wrapped by Amanda McGill

A Guide to Making a Difference

Introduction:


Giving Tuesday is a global day of charitable giving that encourages people to give back to their communities and support causes they are passionate about. Bucks County Housing Group (BCHG) is continuing our work to close the door on hunger and homelessness, and we hope you’ll consider supporting us this Giving Tuesday. We are dedicated to addressing the challenges of food and housing insecurity, and providing affordable housing solutions, and rely on community support to carry out our mission. This Giving Tuesday, consider one of these ways to contribute to help give back to our community and support BCHG:

  1. Monetary Donations:
    One of the most direct ways to support BCHG is through monetary donations. Your financial contributions can go a long way in helping us provide shelter, food, and essential services to individuals and families facing homelessness. Visit our Giving Tuesday page to make a secure online donation, donate via Paypal, or fill out this form to set up a recurring donation to provide ongoing support. You can also support us by buying our merchandise!
  2. Fundraising Campaigns:
    Consider organizing a fundraising campaign within your community or workplace to raise awareness and funds for BCHG. You could host a neighborhood event, set up crowdfunding pages, or collaborate with local businesses to create donation drives. Get creative and involve others in the process to maximize the impact of your fundraising efforts. Need our support? Email info@bchg.org!
  3. Volunteer Your Time:
    If you have the time and skills to spare, consider volunteering with BCHG. We often need volunteers for various tasks, such as assisting with food distribution, helping in our community gardens, or providing support at our office. Volunteering is a hands-on way to make a direct impact and connect with the community you’re helping. To get started, visit our volunteer page.
  4. In-Kind Donations:
    We welcome in-kind donations of essential items. This could include non-perishable food items, clothing, hygiene products, and household supplies. You can view our current list of needed food items here, and check out our Amazon Wishlist for the most up-to-date needs of our housing program units and families.
  5. Spread the Word:
    Help amplify our mission by spreading the word on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and X. Share our posts, upcoming events, and initiatives on your page or story. Encourage your friends, family, and followers to get involved and support us on Giving Tuesday! Use the hashtags #GivingTuesday, #GT2023, and #GivingTuesday2023 to increase the visibility of your posts and inspire others to join the cause.
  6. Corporate Sponsorship:
    If you represent a business, explore the possibility of corporate sponsorship for BCHG. This can involve financial support, in-kind donations, or even collaboration on community initiatives. Corporate partnerships can significantly boost our resources and enable us to expand our impact. If you’re interested in becoming a corporate partner, email amcgill@bchg.org for more information.

Conclusion:


This Giving Tuesday, make a meaningful contribution to Bucks County Housing Group and play a role in addressing homelessness and housing challenges in your community. Whether through financial support, volunteerism, or spreading awareness, your efforts can make a lasting impact on the lives of those in need. Join the movement and be a part of positive change in Bucks County.

Did you know October is National Book Month? As if we needed another reason to spend these autumn days cozied up in front of a fireplace with a cup of coffee and a good book!

If you’re searching for a new read, check out our team’s latest recommendations for some moving and motivating stories about home, hunger, and hope.

BCHG Recommends:

  • No Way Home: The Crisis of Homelessness and How to Fix It with Intelligence and Humanity by Christopher F. Rufo, Wayne H. Winegarden, Joseph Tartakovsky, and Kerry Jackson – “This book examines the causes of homelessness with a focus on unaffordable housing, poverty, mental illness, substance addiction, and legal reform.”
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is a collection of stories which examine the way humans interact with the natural world.
  • The Poverty Paradox by Mark Robert Rank delves into why the wealthiest country in the world (the United States) also has the highest rate of poverty among industrialized countries and offers solutions on what we can do about it.
  • Changing the Face of Hunger by Tony Hall – “Hall’s book describes his humanitarian efforts in Ethiopia, where he saw world hunger up close, and his attempts to bring the problem to the attention of those in Washington, advocating for those who have no voice in global politics.”
  • Cooking with Scraps by Lindsay-Jean Hard provides easy-to-follow recipes using scraps most of us have in our kitchens, offering insight into ways to cook more with less.

We encourage you to explore the offerings at your local Bucks County Free Library – their website provides up-to-date information on their current stock and availability, allowing you to easily embark on a reading adventure this National Book Month.

So, as the autumn leaves fall and the air turns crisper, let these books be your companions, guiding you through stories that inspire, provoke thought, and perhaps even change the way you view the world.

Spread the word(s):

Read one of these books, or find another book that inspires you to fight against hunger and homelessness? Share a photo on Instagram and tag us for a chance to be featured on our page! Don’t forget to follow us @BucksCountyHousingGroup.

Happy reading!

BCHG Homepage

Written By: Hannah Borish

  • Two children dyeing Easter eggs
  • Fresh produce on a table display
  • Gardening

How Your Support Transforms Lives at Bucks County Housing Group

At Bucks County Housing Group, we’re excited to share with you the incredible impact of your generous donations. Your support has been pivotal in changing lives, and we want to give you a glimpse of how we put your donations to work and how they are making a tangible difference in our community. 

1. Filling Plates and Hearts: The Food Program 

Your support has ensured that no one in our community goes to bed hungry. With your help, we’ve been able to purchase nutritious food to sustain our food program, providing a lifeline for individuals and families facing food insecurity. Your generosity goes beyond filling plates; it fills hearts with hope. We’re able to leverage your donations to fill our pantries with healthy produce, pantry staples, and allergen-friendly options.

2. Turning Houses into Homes: Essential Household Supplies 

Imagine starting anew with nothing but the clothes on your back. Your donations have made it possible for us to provide clients in our housing program with essential household supplies to get them started as they stabilize. From toiletries to bedding and kitchenware, your contributions empower individuals and families to transform their living situations, turning houses into comfortable homes. Additionally, our Apartment Partners program provides essential furniture and unforeseen expense help to our client families.

3. Play and Laughter for Children: A New Playset and More

Our youngest clients have reason to smile, thanks to your donations at work. We installed a new playset for children within our housing program thanks to a generous fundraiser from our community, bringing joy and laughter to their lives. This small act has had a significant impact, offering a sense of normalcy during challenging times. In addition, your support has provided supplies for our community building program to host holiday parties, homework help, and community days to aid in bringing a sense of camaraderie and support among our housing clients.

4. Cultivating Hope through Community Gardens 

Gardens are places of growth, not just for plants but for people too. Your support has allowed us to provide seeds and materials for our community gardens, enabling clients to cultivate fresh produce and gain valuable skills. Because of your help, our gardens nourish both bodies and spirits while fostering a sense of community and empowerment. 

5. Beyond the Examples: A Broader Impact 

Your support extends far beyond the specific examples mentioned. Because of your support, we have been able to provide shelter, offer case management services, and host educational workshops. These services are instrumental in helping our clients find stable housing, overcome challenges, and work toward self-sufficiency. 

The Ripple Effect: How Your Donations Transform Lives 

The impact of your generosity goes beyond immediate assistance; we put your donations to work to make lasting changes in Bucks County and our clients’ lives. Clients who receive support during difficult times are better equipped to tackle challenges and work towards self-sufficiency. Your contributions fill them with hope and empowerment, impacting every aspect of their lives and creating a brighter future for them and their families. 

In closing, we want to express our deepest gratitude for your unwavering commitment to our mission. Your support, whether through financial contributions, volunteering, or advocacy, is truly making a difference. Together, we’re creating a stronger, more vibrant community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. 

As we continue this journey of transformation, we look forward to the positive changes your kindness and compassion will bring. Thank you for being a vital part of this life-changing work. 

Introduction 

Have you been wondering “What are volunteer opportunities near me?” or “How can I get involved in my community?” Look no further! Bucks County Housing Group (BCHG) is working steadfastly to close the door on hunger and homelessness. Our mission depends on the invaluable contributions and support from individuals like you, who want to make a difference in their community. In this blog, we will shed light on how you can get involved with BCHG and play a pivotal role in turning our shared vision into reality. 

Understanding BCHG 

Before embarking on your journey of involvement, we encourage you to delve into the heart of Bucks County Housing Group. Explore our website, familiarize yourself with the needs in our area, peruse our social media, and acquaint yourself with our diverse range of services. This foundational knowledge will empower you to engage effectively and align with our vision. 

Volunteer Opportunities 

BCHG operates on the dedication and passion of volunteers who are the backbone of our organization. Volunteering offers an opportunity to directly contribute to our mission. Here are some of the volunteer opportunities you can explore: 

a. Food Pantries: Lend your time and compassion to our food pantries, where you can provide crucial support to individuals and families facing food insecurity. 

b. Community Gardens: Make a tangible impact by volunteering at one of our community garden locations, helping individuals access and grow fresh produce. 

c. Administrative Assistance: Offer your skills in areas like data entry or office management to help facilitate the smooth operation of BCHG. 

d. Other Opportunities: We are always looking for ways that community members can contribute their skillsets to our mission. If you have an idea for a volunteer partnership, let us know! 

Financial Contributions 

If your schedule doesn’t permit regular volunteering, we invite you to consider making a financial contribution. Your donation significantly supports BCHG’s programs and services. We offer various giving options, including one-time donations, monthly contributions, and support for specific fundraising campaigns. 

Advocacy

Amplify your voice in support of food security and housing issues in Bucks County. Advocate for initiatives that address the root causes of homelessness and endorse affordable housing solutions. Attend community meetings and become a voice for change in Bucks County. 

Organize a Fundraiser or Drive 

Harness your community spirit by organizing a fundraiser or donation drive within your network. Events like food drives, cleaning supply drives, and group fundraising can raise both awareness and resources for BCHG, making a considerable difference. Questions about holding a drive? Email amcgill@bchg.org.

Spread the Word 

Help BCHG’s mission reach new heights by promoting it on social media, within your local community, and among friends and family. Sharing our success stories, events, and volunteer opportunities can draw more support and volunteers to our cause. 

Conclusion 

Bucks County Housing Group stands as a beacon of hope in addressing hunger and homelessness in Bucks County. Your involvement through volunteering, donations, advocacy, or event organization is invaluable to our mission. Every action, no matter how small, creates a ripple effect of positive change in the lives of those in need. Join us today and be a part of the solution with BCHG, for together, we create a stronger and more compassionate community. 

Written by: Amanda McGill

How You Can Help Fight Hunger in Bucks County

Summer is here, and while it brings excitement for many, it also poses challenges for our food pantries. This season can be particularly tough as our stock levels tend to run low due to difficulties in securing food donations. While the demand for food assistance intensifies during these months, the support typically garnered during holidays and through school-drive initiatives diminishes. Compounded by the increasing costs of food and reductions in emergency SNAP benefits, the rising client need for food pantry services presents a challenge.

We have observed a steady and significant increase in the number of clients seeking assistance at our food pantries. In the month of May alone, over 550 unique households were served, providing vital support to 1,469 individuals a staggering 4,199 times. This figure has only grown in the month of June and is expected to rise as we enter July.

SNAP benefits, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is a federal assistance program in the United States. It provides eligible individuals and families with funds to purchase nutritious food. The program aims to alleviate food insecurity and improve access to healthy meals. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania provided temporary additional SNAP payments to recipients. These additional funds, typically averaging $95 or more, were crucial in supporting households facing food insecurity and mitigating the pandemic’s impact on vulnerable populations. However, in February, these extra benefits ended, resulting in decreased food assistance for many.

Furthering the struggle, food prices continue to rise due to factors including international inflation, labor costs, supply chain issues, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts a projected increase of 4.1% in food production costs for the year 2023. These food prices not only impact consumers, but also our food program’s ability to purchase food.

Bucks County Housing Group has witnessed a rise in clients struggling with homelessness or housing insecurity. The issue of homelessness almost always intersects with food insecurity, amplifying the urgency to provide consistent and reliable access to nourishing food.

The combination of these factors has created a significant gap that BCHG strives to bridge. We work hard to ensure that vulnerable individuals and families have access to essential sustenance. Our comprehensive approach to food security services ensures the issue of food access is addressed at every stage.

These challenges may seem overwhelming, but this is where your support really makes a difference! By increasing awareness of the ongoing need for food donations during the summer months, individuals, local businesses, and community organizations play a crucial role in ensuring that no one goes hungry. Every contribution, no matter how small, can make a significant impact in the lives of those struggling with food insecurity and homelessness.

There are many ways to help:

  1. Food Donations: Please consider donating either perishable or non-perishable food items. These contributions directly support our clients. Donations can be dropped off at our Penndel Pantry Tuesdays 10:00am – 12:00pm and our Doylestown Pantry Wednesday 1:30 – 3:30pm. To coordinate other donation times or food drives, please email amcgill@bchg.org.
  2. Financial Contributions: ​The best way to support our pantries currently is with monetary donations or gift cards to local grocery stores. These donations allow BCHG to purchase fresh produce, dairy products, and other perishable items, ensuring a balanced and nutritious food supply for our food pantries. Even a small contribution can go a long way in making a positive impact.
  3. Volunteer Support: Make a difference in your community by volunteering at BCHG’s food pantries or organizing food drives. Your time and skills can have a significant impact, helping to collect and distribute food to those in need.
  4. Spread the Word: Share the mission of BCHG through social media, community newsletters, local events, or just tell a friend about us! Raising awareness is key to expanding our impact and reaching more individuals and families in need.

We are facing a decline in food donations and an increase in demand at our food pantries. This presents a pressing challenge, but one we are ready to face. We are dedicated to providing food assistance to all community members who turn to our pantries. To reach that goal, we need your help. Please consider supporting us and our mission to close the door on hunger in Bucks County!

Share our mission by following along!

Instagram: @buckscountyhousinggroup

Facebook: Bucks County Housing Group

Twitter: @housing4all

LinkedIn: Bucks County Housing Group

Written By: Dominic DiFrancesco


The Disproportionate Impact of Food and Housing Insecurity on the LGBTQIA+ Community 

June is National Pride Month, a time to celebrate all colors of love and reflect on the history of the LGBTQIA+ community in our country. While Pride Month is mainly honored through bright and fun events like parades and parties, it is also a bleak reminder of the hatred, hardships, and disproportionate challenges that members of the LGBTQIA+ community have faced throughout history and still face today. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), these challenges are often caused by different social, economic, and systemic factors, such as discrimination, family rejection, and being at a higher risk for mental challenges. Unfortunately, members of the LGBTQIA+ community face discrimination in many areas of life, and housing/food security is no exception. In general, LGBTQIA+ adults report significantly higher rates of hunger and homelessness than the general population. 

Housing Insecurity

The Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law published a study in 2020 that found that, compared to cisgender heterosexual individuals, members of the LGBTQIA+ community have higher rates of poverty, lower rates of homeownership, and higher rates of homelessness. The report found that 17% of sexual minority adults reported experiencing lifetime homelessness; this number is almost three times higher than the percentage of the general population who reported experiencing lifetime homelessness (6%). The study also found that more than 70% of heterosexual, cisgender adults own their own homes, while less than half of LGBTQIA+ adults own their own homes. Other Williams Institute studies have found that homeownership is even lower among LGBTQIA+ racial minorities and transgender people. 

In the housing market, LGBTQIA+ individuals are often mistreated by online renters, mortgage lenders, and homeless shelters and services. “Stigma and discrimination create or exacerbate housing instability for LGBT people across their lives, from family rejection of LGBT youth to discrimination in the rental market and mortgage industry to harassment at senior living facilities,” (Williams Institute). Real-life examples of this discrimination include housing providers not renting or selling to same-sex couples, realtors refusing to show houses to a transgender individual, and a leasing manager at a 55+ community rejecting a tenant’s request to add his same-sex partner to his lease, stating, in writing, that “the community only accepts married couples in unions between one man and one woman,” (HUD)

Food Insecurity

The same discrimination and disproportionate numbers can be found when looking at food security among the LGBTQIA+ community. According to the Household Pulse Survey conducted between July and August of 2021, more than 13% of LGBTQIA+ adults reported living in a home where there was often not enough to eat, almost double that of non-LGBTQIA+ adults (7%). Furthermore, a Williams Institute report published in 2020 revealed that the number of LGBTQIA+ individuals who reported not having enough food to eat that year was more than double that of the general population. Not only do members of the queer community face hunger more often than heterosexual, cisgender adults, but they also reported often feeling unwelcome at food pantries and places that were supposed to help them. 

How to Help

So, what can we do to help? At Bucks County Housing Group, our mission is to make food and permanent housing more accessible to everyone, regardless of who they love or how they identify. We work toward this goal through various housing programs like supportive housing, rapid rehousing, housing counseling, and food programs like our pantries, mobile markets, and community gardens.  

None of this work would be possible without the support of community members like you. If you’re able, please help us on our mission to end hunger and homelessness in Bucks County through any or all of the methods below: 

Volunteer

Donate

Hold A Drive

Share our mission by following along!
Instagram: @buckscountyhousinggroup
Facebook: Bucks County Housing Group
Twitter: @housing4all

Lastly, be sure to stay up to date on local news and updates impacting the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Written By: Hannah Borish