For a state of less than a million people, people in need are a big part of it. According to Jill Fredel of the state Department of Health and Human Services, 31% of Delawares receive Medicaid, with 112,000 receiving SNAP and 305,000 receiving Medicaid. About 500 more people have applied for food benefits by the end of June 2022, Fredel said.
Delaware remains under both a state and federal public health emergency, making additional help available to those who need it. But that extra help will eventually expire.
“It’s been kind of a godsend to have these enhanced perks,” Fredel said. “Enhanced benefits, whether it’s staying on Medicaid or supplemental food benefits or waiving copay for subsidized child care, those are all going to go away at some point. We just want to May the individuals and families of Delaware be ready for it.
Many, like Kim Turner of the Food Bank, are hoping September White House Nutrition Conferencethe first conference of its kind in 50 years, will lead to new measures to combat food insecurity at the national level.
As elected officials and advocates work to feed the hungry, others worry about the growing number of homeless people.
Laurie Jacobs of the Delaware State Housing Authority cited a trend of increasing calls for housing assistance. “More recently, we’ve seen an increase in people seeking help with affordable housing, especially with rising rental prices and a surging housing market,” she said.
The most recent count made by the Delaware Continuum of Care recorded 2,369 homeless Delawares, its highest number on record. The report says that since 2020 there are about three times as many families with children who are homeless, an increase from 136 to 389.
Jim Martin worked to help homeless people in Sussex County as director of The shepherd’s office in Georgetown. Since the start of the pandemic, it has helped provide clothes and mobile phones with free wifi, as well as non-perishable food and hot meals.
His office also functions as an address that people experiencing homelessness can use to fill out their paperwork when asking for help.
Brian Francisco experienced homelessness in Sussex. He volunteers at Martin’s office and says it saved his life. “They had someone sign me up today for food stamps. And I got tents, sleeping bags, propane, food, and clothes,” Francisco said.