With $2M, Ecumenical Hunger Program rolls out longer term aid to families | July 29, 2022 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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News - July 29, 2022

With $2M, Ecumenical Hunger Program rolls out longer term aid to families

by Aliana Mediratta

For the first time in its history, the East Palo Alto-based nonprofit Ecumenical Hunger Program (EHP) will be offering individualized, comprehensive, long-term assistance to a select number of local families through its Family Sustainability Program.

Founded in 1975, EHP initially provided food to members of the community in need. Over nearly five decades, its mission has evolved to provide direct aid in a variety of ways, including food, furniture, back-to-school supplies, children's health resources and more. The organization primarily aims to help those who are struggling by alleviating burdens on a one-time basis in order to prevent poverty from worsening.

"We help sustain people, we help keep people afloat," said EHP Executive Director Lesia Preston. "EHP is a lifesaver, we know we can't totally take people out of the water, but we can keep them afloat."

Preston said that the expanded safety net program will operate differently, providing long-term aid to families in order to transform their living situation alongside its temporary assistance services. While one-time assistance is vital for individuals and families who need to keep the lights on, the aid is typically not enough to prevent them from continuing to live in poverty, which continues the 'revolving door of need.'

"It's going to make a tremendous difference in their life," Preston said, "we can help them month to month, help them budget their money better and make the proper referrals to help them hopefully get ahead, where they can stay ahead so once that time period is up they won't fall back into that same situation."

While the families have not yet been selected, Preston estimates that they will be able to accommodate between five and 10. Clients who are considered "working homeless or on the verge of homelessness" are eligible. The goal for these recipients is to achieve long term self-sufficiency, rather than relying on one-time assistance as they continue to struggle through poverty.

The Safety-Net plan, which includes the new program, was developed after EHP's board of directors and executive leadership assessed the most effective way to use roughly $2 million dollars received from recent generous donations.

Preston expressed her optimism about EHP's future given the tremendous response from those who contributed financially to support the East Palo Alto community, which increased during the pandemic.

"How people came through for us, we were amazed," Preston said "It's just a blessing that we're able to do this now because of what people have done for EHP during these times, now we're able to help the community in a new way, in a better way, and at a higher level."

Information on how to support Ecumenical Hunger Program and its work or for information on accessing assistance, go to ehpcares.org.

Email Editorial Intern Aliana Mediratta at [email protected]

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