Sen. Reed Helps Deliver New Federal Hunger Relief for RI

Published 04/13/2021


U.S. Sen. Jack Reed stopped by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank’s Niantic Avenue headquarters Monday afternoon to announce $40 million in federal aid to help fight hunger and food inequality in the Ocean State.

Reed said that the funds included in the American Rescue Plan would go toward several measures aimed at reducing child poverty and feeding families. A 15 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits was extended through September. The senator said the hike presents an additional $27 per Rhode Islander per month, or $108 for a family of four.

He also discussed a “substantial influx” of money into the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT, program, through the end of the COVID-19 crisis. He said the initiative “helps families purchase food for children whose access to meals through their schools have been impacted by COVID.”

Reed said $3.4 million would be dedicated to administrative costs related to food assistance, such as websites, outreach and connecting eligible residents to programs. Larger allotments to national agencies will benefit the Ocean State, too. He said $750 million was committed to Meals on Wheels, while the USDA received $880 million to “deliver more expandable access to fruits and vegetables for mothers and children.”

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not out of this crisis yet. We’ve got to be vigilant, we’ve got to ensure the pandemic doesn’t turn into a deeper economic crisis with a eviction epidemic and a hunger epidemic, on top of the public health emergency. The Food Bank is essential to this effort. I salute their incredible work,” Reed said. “Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine for hunger. We’ve got to make it our mission to ensure everyone in our community has a place at the table.”

Food Bank CEO Andrew Schiff said that the organization’s statewide network saw a significant increase in need when the pandemic began last year. Member agencies went from helping 53,000 people each month to more than 68,000. He cited research from Brown University that showed, three months into the pandemic, one in four Rhode Island households “could not afford adequate food.”

He said the disparity was even worse for the state’s Black and Latinx households, which saw a one-in-three rate.

“Food pantry lines are like a barometer of human suffering, and no one’s ever just hungry,” Schiff said. “The people standing in line for food assistance also need help paying their rent, utilities. Today, we are optimistic and hopeful for an end to the COVID-19 crisis, as more people get vaccinated, and get protected from disease, but we also need to make sure that people are protected from the economic hardships caused by COVID-19.”

He took a moment to thank Reed and Congress for passing the “life-saving and life-changing” American Rescue Plan that made the aid possible.

“Fortunately, the American Rescue Plan recognizes both the depth and the severity of the current crisis,” Schiff said. “So through the American Rescue Plan, Congress recognized that it’s going to take a while for the economy to recover. It’s going to take a lot of government assistance to repair the damage done to our economy, in Rhode Island, we can thank our congressional delegation, led by Sen. Reed, for enacting the American Rescue Plan.”

Kathleen Gorman, director of the Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America at the University of Rhode Island, said the Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided some “initial advancements” for SNAP benefits last year. It wasn’t nearly comprehensive enough, though, she said. More than half of Rhode Island SNAP recipients weren’t eligible for enhanced payments, so the provision in the American Rescue Plan to apply the 15 percent increase to all beneficiaries was essential.

“That has just made a tremendous difference for seniors, for families, for working adults, for adults who are no longer working because they’ve lost their job,” Gorman said. “One of the things we know is, not only people who lost their jobs, but so many individuals particularly women, had to leave their jobs to stay home with their children because childcare centers closed, because the schools closed, because they went on the hybrid models. What happened to the children? They lost their breakfast and lunch programs, or they had it some days and not other days.”

Gorman added that she hopes the P-EBT program becomes an institution over time.

“[P-EBT] allows families to have SNAP benefits, additional benefits for their children and if they’re not SNAP recipients, low-income households that qualify for free and reduced lunch, they can get an EBT card, a debit card, and have an added benefit so they don’t have to worry about where their children are going to get their next meal,” Gorman said. “So both of those, along with so many of the other great things that are in the American Rescue Plan, help to extend and fortify this effort.”

Rilwan Feyisitan Jr., executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Providence, serves on the Food Bank’s board of directors. He said the American Rescue Plan is a “great lifeline,” but the work to end food inequality is far from over.

He said CAPP looks forward to serving the community during the recovery phase of the pandemic, but the state isn’t quite at that stage yet.

“I get to be a leader of an organization that’s serving and will continue to serve the recovery base, so as we go through this rescue phase, we are looking forward to recovery. We’re not there yet,” Feyisitan said. “So that’s that cautionary tale that last year, we see people who will directly be impacted because of this work that the senator has done, we’ve got much more work to do. As we all know in Rhode Island, before the pandemic, but we had too many people that are struggling. Our economy was struggling, people were struggling to get jobs.”

Feyisitan said that people who had previously donated to the organization had become recipients of its help over the past year, and residents are still struggling even as glimmers of hope appear.

“So we’re excited to be able to roll up our sleeves with the senator, and we’re hoping that Congress in a bipartisan way will really work to the next level of recovery,” he said. “It’s hard to even talk about that when we’re still in the middle of it, but what this rescue act has done is give us the shot in the arm that we needed, next to the COVID vaccine. So now we’re looking for getting people back into a robust economy and a place where we’re helping our neighbors in need like we’ve never done before.”

article by Jacob Marrocco, Cranston Herald 4/07/2021

Senior Staff Members Step Up to the Front Lines

Published 03/23/2021


Community Action Partnership of Providence County’s Finance Director, Dale Halburian, is no stranger to service. Dale has worked with non-profits for over 30 years and he is also a long-time volunteer at the food pantry operated by his church. He said he was struck by the number of people he saw standing in line waiting for their weekly distribution of food. He contacted the volunteer organizer and offered his help; a year later, he became the church pantry’s treasurer.

Just as CAPP’s food pantry had to adapt operations to health and safety guidelines during the pandemic, Dale’s church pantry faced similar issues. “[The church food pantry] had to close temporarily per lockdown requirements and figure out to distribute food in a non-contact socially distant environment,” he said. [1]

Undeniably one of our most important programs at CAPP is the food pantry. Residents experiencing food insecurity have come to depend on CAPP for staple non-perishables. Our satellite facility on Broad Street was serving over 700 families every month before the pandemic. Between March and July, that number leapt up to over 1,000 families each month and continues to grow. This can be directly linked to the rising unemployment rate in the state; which increased by 7% in the same period of time.[2] In a 2020 state-wide survey conducted by the RI Community Food Bank it was discovered that concerns about having adequate food effected 25% of households.[3]

This increase in need meant an increase in effort on all staff. Senior leadership at CAPP mobilized to meet the challenge. Dale has been with CAPP for three years and was among the senior staff who pivoted from their normal duties to keep the food pantry open. He would spend Wednesdays working with others unloading the delivery truck and helping to organize inventory as it came in. Like all the leadership team at CAPP, Dale took his turn rolling up his sleeves to serve our community.

It is easy to see the division, distance, separation, and isolation that coincided with the coronavirus pandemic but one only needs to look a little closer to find the Helpers. There are multiple opportunities to volunteer time and money to agencies like CAPP who look after the most vulnerable amongst us. “This opportunity to work alongside my fellow CAPP employees and to really be part of the operation was extremely rewarding and meaningful to me.  It is a privilege to be able to experience this and I am happy to be able to continue my support in every way I can whether it be behind the scenes again here at CAPP or on the front line at the church,” Dale said.[4]

These are uncertain times but one thing remains constant: CAPP will continue to lead with dignity and serve with purpose when we’re needed the most.

[1] Testimonial, February 19, 2021
[2] RI Community Food Bank, 2020 Status Report on Hunger in RI
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid

Covid-19 Vaccine Clinics/Clinicas de Vacunas Covid-19

Published 03/02/2021

Providence residents 50 or older who live in some of our communities hardest hit zip codes are now eligible to register for the Covid-19 vaccineThose zip codes are 02907,02908, and 02909.  City of Providence clinics will continue to be available to all residents 65 or older citywide. Appointments are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

As a reminder, all COVID-19 vaccines provided at City clinics or City partner clinics are available at no cost to residents and no health insurance is required. COVID-19 vaccines are available to all Providence residents regardless of immigration status.

Providence residents 50 or older (that live in zip codes 02907, 02908, and 02909) and residents 65 or older (that live in all Providence zip codes) who are technologically able can register* themselves for an open appointment here:

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Registration Link:

Managed by Providence Emergency Management Agency

This clinic will serve residents 65 or older of all Providence zip codes and residents 50 or older living in zip codes 02907, 02908, and 02909.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Registration Link:

Managed by Asthenis Pharmacy

This is a High Density Community partner site. This clinic will exclusively serve Providence residents 50 or older living in zip codes 02907, 02908 or 02909.

*Internet Explorer will not work with the above provided links. Copying and pasting the registration link is encouraged. Anyone who registers that is not in one of the specified groups will have their appointment cancelled.

Residents who need assistance signing up for an appointment are encouraged to dial 3-1-1 or (401)421-2489 to speak with a Mayor's Center for City Services Representative who can walk them through the enrollment process in English or Spanish. Although additional staff are supporting phone lines, residents should expect longer than normal wait times as MCCS anticipates a higher than normal call volume.

Clinics will adhere to all COVID-19 safety guidelines and best practices. Upon arrival, individuals who enter the clinic will undergo medical screening and will be required to wear a mask. If residents are sick or in quarantine for COVID-19, they are required to stay home and book a new appointment.

For updates regarding the City's vaccination efforts, all residents are encouraged to join the Providence Vaccine Notification List in English or Spanish, visit the VaccinatePVD website or contact the Mayor’s Center for City Services at City Hall by dialing 3-1-1 or by downloading the PVD311, mobile application now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play .

Thank you for your patience and your work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Hoy anunciamos las citas disponibles para las próximas Clínicas de Vacunas COVID-19 de Providence para residentes de Providence de 50 años o más que viven en algunas de nuestras comunidades con los códigos postales más afectados. Esos códigos postales son 02907,02908 y 02909. Las clínicas de la ciudad de Providence seguirán estando disponibles para todos los residentes de 65 años o más en toda la ciudad. Las citas están disponibles por orden de llegada.

Como recordatorio, todas las vacunas COVID-19 proporcionadas en las clínicas de la Ciudad o en las clínicas asociadas de la Ciudad están disponibles sin costo para los residentes y no se requiere seguro médico. Las vacunas COVID-19 están disponibles para todos los residentes de Providence, independientemente de su estado migratorio.

Los residentes de Providence de 50 años o más (que viven en los códigos postales 02907, 02908 y 02909) y los residentes de 65 años o más (que viven en todos los códigos postales de Providence) que son tecnológicamente capaces pueden registrarse * ellos mismos para una cita abierta aquí:

Miércoles, 3 de marzo de 2021

Enlace de registro:

Administrado por la Agencia de Manejo de Emergencias de Providence

Esta clínica atenderá a residentes de 65 años o más de todos los códigos postales de Providence y a residentes de 50 años o más que vivan en los códigos postales 02907, 02908 y 02909.

Viernes, 5 de marzo de 2021

Enlace de registro:

Administrado por Asthenis Pharmacy

Este es un sitio asociado de la comunidad de alta densidad. Esta clínica atenderá exclusivamente a los residentes de Providence de 50 años o más que vivan en los códigos postales 02907, 02908 o 02909.

* Internet Explorer no funcionará con los enlaces proporcionados anteriormente. Se recomienda copiar y pegar el enlace de registro. Cualquiera que se registre que no esté en uno de los grupos especificados tendrá su cita cancelada.

Se recomienda a los residentes que necesiten ayuda para inscribirse en una cita que marquen el 3-1-1 o (401)421-2489 para hablar con un Representante del Centro de Servicios de la Ciudad del Alcalde, quien puede guiarlos a través del proceso de inscripción en inglés o español. Aunque el personal adicional está apoyando las líneas telefónicas, los residentes deben esperar tiempos de espera más largos de lo normal, ya que MCCS anticipa un volumen de llamadas más alto de lo normal.

Las clínicas se adherirán a todas las pautas de seguridad y mejores prácticas de COVID-19. A su llegada, las personas que ingresen a la clínica se someterán a un examen médico y se les pedirá que usen una máscara. Si los residentes están enfermos o en cuarentena por COVID-19, deben quedarse en casa y reservar una nueva cita.

Para obtener actualizaciones sobre los esfuerzos de vacunación de la ciudad, se alienta a todos los residentes a unirse a la Lista de notificación de vacunas de Providence en inglés o español, visitar el sitio web VaccinatePVD o comunicarse con el Centro de Servicios de la Ciudad del Alcalde en el Ayuntamiento llamando al PVD311, aplicación móvil ahora disponible en Apple App Store y Google Play.

Gracias por su paciencia y su trabajo para mitigar la propagación de COVID-19.

CAPP to Establish an Emergency Needs Fund

Published 02/24/2021

CAPP’s tagline is Leading with Dignity, Serving with Purpose. It says a lot about who we are and what we do. When tragedies happen and families are in need, we make every effort to live up to our ideal.

When the December 22nd fire broke out in the multi-family home on Lucy Street in the Mount Pleasant section of Providence, three families lost everything they owned. One family lost two small children in the blaze. 2020 was already a year where many of Providence’s residents were left unemployed, facing eviction and sick; the fire seemed like a final cruelty of circumstances. The normal channels people turn to for assistance after such an emergency proved insufficient and these residents were left with nothing.

After being alerted to the families’ dire needs through our partnership with the Providence Public School Department, CAPP contacted several of our community partners to rally around these families to offer support in their time of unimaginable loss. Through the quick action of CAPP and its partnerships with local agencies, the families received gift cards for basic needs, food from our food pantry, clothing, PPE as well as mental health referrals. Our sister agency in Cranston provided these families access to their furniture bank so the persons displaced by the fire could modestly furnish their new apartments.

One of these residents, identified as Elizabeth, said “We were not expecting to get so much help.” She and her family have expressed deep gratitude for the kindness they were shown. The family thanked CAPP for our generosity and expressed additional thanks for the connections to other resources not available in-house. Prior to the tragic fire, Elizabeth said she had not heard of CAPP and didn’t know about the services we provide to Providence County's residents. Throughout her life Elizabeth said she had always helped others and never thought she'd need assistance such as what she received from CAPP. She was able to accept our help in the spirit of wanting to pay it forward and plans to give back by volunteering at CAPP in the future.

Elizabeth is close to securing US residency, the process has been delayed due to systemic changes and the ongoing pandemic. She has been in the US for 14 years, and has never received public or private assistance before. She explained that the undocumented population stays to themselves, only trusting organizations to which they have a connection and only utilizing those trusted resources. “Many go without instead of going to get anything," Elizabeth said. The aid she and her family received from CAPP and others left her very grateful “When you lose everything, and don't have anything, even $20 can make a difference.”

Another resident named Freddy was also displaced by the fire. Freddy is heartbroken over the loss of his home and especially over the loss of the children, to whom he was a self-described father figure. Like Elizabeth, he never thought he would need assistance and hadn't heard about CAPP until the fire happened. The most valuable help he received was the moral support. Freddy describes himself as a fighter but everything that happened left him feeling broken. The support he found at CAPP lifted him up. “It was more emotional support than anything. For someone to listen," he said. During impossibly hard times, it was important to him that strangers had been there for him when his extended family was unable to help.

Earlier in 2020, he was working a steady job in another state but his hours were reduced due to the pandemic and it led to him coming to Rhode Island. He was working when the fire happened, coming home to find nothing but the destruction left in its wake. Of the things he lost, he was deeply hurt by the loss of a disk containing irreplaceable photos of his family when his children were small back in his country of origin. He says he is traumatized by the fire and is struggling but getting by thanks to the kindness and compassion he received from CAPP.

A second, unrelated house fire on Smith Street gave us the opportunity to serve another resident who had difficulty accessing resources. Kathy is a part-time life skills specialist at another non-profit agency in Providence. She had received heating assistance through CAPP in the past and had referred friends and neighbors to the agency when they hit hard times. Her apartment was heavily damaged in a fire and most of her belongings that weren’t consumed by the fire were damaged by smoke, soot and water. She was disheartened by the serious lack of services and resources available to her at the most truly trying time of her life. Shelters weren’t able to offer help because of COVID-19 restrictions. She found several programs that were unfunded because monies were redirected towards COVID relief. She found herself staying in a hotel while her name was on multiple waiting lists for housing, but, there was no telling how long it would be before she could be accommodated. “I saw homeless people and felt like I was about to be one,” she said.

Her calls for help were unheard and unanswered.

One call to CAPP was the turning point for this resident. Through the LIHEAP department, she was connected to our Community Outreach Coordinator. This is what Kathy would describe as a turning point in her recovery from the fire. She felt immediately connected and was promptly referred to some of our community partners who were able to offer her the help she desperately needed. After a visit to the CAPP food pantry at our satellite office on Broad Street, she felt like she was “seen as a person.”

With housing as her most prominent concern, Kathy said a CAPP staff member made a call to a housing service with the intention of continuing to get her established in an apartment. Once an available dwelling was available, she received assistance with a security deposit from our Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program. “(Being in this situation) feels like you’re by yourself. Knowing that people care about you makes a difference,” Kathy said.

There are no words to be spoken or act of support that could ever replace the lives lost or to ease the pain suffered by the families of this horrific event at what should have been a time to celebrate the winter holidays. CAPP and our partners in the community were proud to stand by the survivors and hope the assistance and empathy we provided made a difference for these families’ lives. Our staff would like to thank our partners, We Heart Lives, CCAP, and Project Undercover for providing essential services as well as the generous private donors who helped us provide for these residents.

Community Action Partnership of Providence is tireless in the pursuit of making the lives of our residents better. There isn’t a specific program within our agency dedicated to relief for fire survivors but we were proud to have been able to mobilize and provide wraparound services to these residents while they rebuild. Our Executive Director Rilwan Feyisitan, Jr. would like to establish an emergency fund at CAPP to support families and individuals in similar situations. He and members of the board are contributing personally to seed this fund. They invite you to join us in building this fund.

 You can donate to CAPP by clicking HERE.

CAPP Takes a Lead in the Fight for $15

Published 02/23/2021

As of October 2019, all full-time employees of CAPP earn at least $15 an hour. This practice positions us at the forefront of the push for fair pay for the Rhode Island working class. The Biden administration has said increasing wages will be a priority and the President has already taken steps towards paying federal employees and contract workers a fair wage. Karla Walter, the senior director of Employment Policy at the Center for American Progress, said of the President’s January 22nd order: 

"This order will also help close pay disparities for women, and Black and Latino workers (and) is a critical first step in delivering on (the President's) campaign commitments to raise wages for workers."[1]

CAPP is proud to be both a leader in the Fight for $15 and in line with the President’s plan to ensure workers receive the pay they deserve to support their families. Increasing the minimum wage will reduce the number of citizens who will rely on public assistance programs. In the event that the state or federal minimum wage is raised to $15 an hour, CAPP will be ready to assist residents with managing their finances to avoid missteps. Our Education and Job Development Department has been operating a Financial Literacy program for several years. Even through COVID-19, we ran 15-person virtual cohorts guiding residents through the do’s and don’ts of money management.
The training touches on budgeting, paying down credit card debt, saving for emergencies and basic investments and mutual funds for long-term financial planning. Many of the residents participating in the program are working towards home ownership. Debra, a resident who participated in the first cohort of CAPP’s Financial Literacy program, learned about our classes from College Unbound. She wasn’t sure at first that it would be beneficial to her but she said she gained a better understanding of the language of finances.
“I needed to understand it so I could make better choices.”[2]
The question of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour has been in the headlines for a long time. To date, the current federal minimum wage has not changed since 2009. 29 states have raised their minimum wage, varying from $8.75 (Montana and Nevada) to $13 (California[3]).[4]
20 states[5] either do not have a minimum wage and defer to the federal standard or subscribe to the same amount for their minimum wage. Seven states[6] have approved incremental increases, which will raise their minimum wage to $15 and will get there by 2025 at the latest. Only Washington DC offers workers $15 per hour.[7] Here in Rhode Island, former Governor Gina Raimondo ordered the minimum wage for workers increased to $11.50 from $10.50 as of October 1, 2020.
People of color, particularly women, are disproportionately underpaid in the American workforce. Raising the minimum wage will not only close racial and gender pay gaps but will additionally stimulate the economy and reduce poverty overall. In Rhode Island, while the current statewide minimum wage of $11.50 is higher than the federal minimum wage, it still falls shy of the established living wage, which is $14.92.[8][9]
43% of Rhode Islanders are currently working minimum wage jobs and would be affected by the increase, upping their annual income by an average of $2,900 per year. The age bracket most affected by an increase would be 25 to 54-year olds, comprising a major cross section of Rhode Island's workforce. Similarly, approximately 3,000 youth, aged 16 to 24, would see an influx of funds if the minimum wage was raised to $15 per hour. Overall, an estimated 112,000 Rhode Islanders would benefit from the increase.[10]
As of this writing, gradually raising the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2026 is part of the President’s pandemic relief bill. The plan, if passed, would increase the minimum wage to $9.50 within the year.[11] There are voices against this endeavor as there have always been. One of the main arguments against raising the federal minimum wage purports that an estimate of 1.4 million jobs would be lost. According to the New York Times, “wages aren’t merely determined by market forces; rather, they reflect a tug of war between labor and capital…if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity since 1968, it would now be $24 an hour.”[12] It remains to be seen if this particular aspect of President Biden’s plan will be approved but one thing is clear:
America’s minimum wage workers are long overdue for a raise. 
[2] Interview, January 8, 2021
[3] Minimum of $13 per hour for employers with fewer than 26 employees. The minimum wage is $14 per hour for employers with more than 26 employees.
[5] Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
[6] California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.
[8] Based on a family of three with both parents working.
Map Credit: