S-L Opportunity: Food Stamp Enrollment Campaign

Posted by on July 29, 2005

Dear service-learning faculty and coordinators,

Now that the summer is drawing to an end, many of you are gearing up for the fall semester. The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger is also developing its fall plans for the Food Stamp Enrollment Campaign and hopes to continue to involve service-learning students from Philadelphia area colleges and universities in this Campaign.

Over the past three years, many service-learning students have been trained by and volunteered with the Campaign, including 19 students in the spring semester of 2004. They have served primarily as “pre-screeners” at various sites around the city (e.g., public health centers), determining households’ eligibility for the Food Stamp Program and assisting them in the application process. These service-learning students have been a vital part of the Campaign’s efforts to increase participation in the Food Stamp Program, and students’ involvement in the Campaign has allowed them to better connect their work in the classroom with the realities of low-income households in Philadelphia.

In the past, service-learning students from the following schools have participated in the Campaign: Bryn Mawr College, Cabrini College, Haverford College, St. Joseph’s University, Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, and Villanova University. They have been enrolled in courses in a variety of disciplines, including economics, political science, religion, and sociology. (Please see some faculty and student responses to their involvement in the Campaign at the end of this e-mail).

As you and/or your colleagues are developing service-learning curricula for the fall or spring semester, we ask that you consider the Coalition Against Hunger’s Food Stamp Enrollment Campaign as a potential placement for your students. In addition to continuing our regular pre-screenings this fall, we hope to assist clients at several sites in applying for food stamps on-line and to continue our direct work with various County Assistance Offices in Philadelphia. Thus, there will be many opportunities for service-learning students to become involved in the Campaign.

If you know of any fall service-learning courses at your school that might benefit from a partnership with the Coalition Against Hunger’s Food Stamp Enrollment Campaign, I would appreicate it if you could pass this information along to me. I can be reached via e-mail at ceisenberg@hungercoalition.org or at 215-430-0555. I would be happy to discuss the specifics of the Campaign and particular courses with you in greater detail as well as answer any questions you may have.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration, and have a relaxing summer!

Cindy Eisenberg
Volunteer Coordinator
Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger
2901 W. Hunting Park Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19129

Judy Porter, Professor of Sociology at Bryn Mawr College, has taught service-learning classes for several years, most recently with some of her students volunteering with the Campaign and some at other organizations. She said, “The best papers I got…were uniformly from the food stamp pre-screeners. It gives the students personal contact and has clear policy implications.”

Temple student Alex Verno began volunteering with the Campaign two years ago. He explained, “As a Political Science major, I am familiar with many of the theories about welfare policy, but as a pre-screener, I have witnessed the more human side to the story. Through one-on-one interactions with clients, I now understand the stigma and barriers facing those in need.”

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