These are difficult times for many people. Here are links to some helpful resources including free meals, social services, job assistance, and mental health resources:
First, United Way of Pennsylvania has a very complete PA COVID-19 Resource Page for help with just about any issue you may be facing. This includes Key Information about the current situation, and links for help with Housing, Utilities, Food, Government Relief, Financial Assistance, Children and Families, Mental Health, Healthcare, Fraud Protection, and Other Resources.
Free Meal Distribution
Stevens Fire Company has been offering Free-No Charge ‘grab & go’ lunches and dinners. Monday, Wednesday and Friday through June 5th. They post the schedule on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/StevensFireCo/
Central PA Food Bank serves all of central PA, including Lancaster County, with locations in Denver, Ephrata, and New Holland. Use the Find Food page to find local sites or call the Central PA Food Bank helpline at 1-877-999-5964.
Helping Harvest located in Reading, is the food Bank for Berks and Schuylkill Counties. Call Helping Harvest at 610-926-5802 x227 to be guided to food assistance in your local community.
Community Action Partnership posted this on 4/8/2020: If your household has been impacted by COVID-19, please know that you are now eligible for disaster household food distribution regardless of income. Call 211 or visit https://www.uwp.org/211gethelp/ and click on “food/meals” to find food pantries close to you. Due to the pandemic, we would recommend that you call the pantry before visiting to verify their distribution schedule.
Since offices are closed, PA CareerLink of Lancaster County has set up job seeker and employer hotlines to match people with available jobs. For job seekers, the number to call is 844-744-8451. Representatives are available 8:30 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday.
You can also access the statewide COVID-19 online job portal at https://www.pacareerlink.pa.gov/jponline/JobSeeker/COVID19Employment.
Pennsylvania Unemployment Insurance Program – File an initial claim for benefits here. If you need help, the UC benefits website states that “Due to the high volume of calls and UC Live Chat requests, the BEST way to get assistance from our team is to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Local and State Services
REAL Life Community Services – REAL Life Community Services offers a full range emergency assistance and community services to connect families and individuals to the help they need. This service is all done in conjunction with the Northern Lancaster Community HUB, a collaboration of 24 different non-profit organizations.
United Way of Lancaster County/PA 2-1-1– If you don’t know where to get help, call 2-1-1. PA 2-1-1 can help connect you with any health or human service need. If you’re looking to donate, United Way of Lancaster County is fundraising to help people affected by COVID-19.
FREE Crisis Text Line – Text PA to 741741
Helping Kids Cope
Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19 from National Assoc. of School Psychologists
If you’re looking for ways to explain the current situation to kids, Coronavirus: A Book for Children can help. It answers questions like: How do you catch coronavirus and what happens if you have it? Why are people so worried about it? Is there a cure? Why do we have to stay home? What can I do to help? And, what happens next? Free for everyone, from Candlewick Press: https://stayhome.candlewick.com/
Dave the Dog is Worried About Coronavirus: A Nurse Dotty Book: This free download book was written by a nurse. It aims to open up the conversation about coronavirus and some of the things kids might be hearing about it and provide truthful information in a reassuring and child friendly manner. Miss Jess says, “Guess what kind of owl is Nurse Dotty.”
My Hero is You, a story developed for and by children around the world, offers a way for children and parents to together think about the questions the pandemic raises. Designed to be read by a parent, caregiver or teacher alongside a child or a small group of children, the story was shaped by more than 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from around the world who took the time to share how they are coping with the impact of COVID-19.
Dr Michelle Dickinson (Nanogirl) explains coronavirus in a series of videos at https://www.nanogirllive.co.nz/coronavirus-soap-experiment
Here are even more resources and videos from kidshealth.org (New Zealand). https://www.kidshealth.org.nz/resources-help-explain-coronavirus-covid-19-children
102-page guided ‘first-aid’ workbook, ‘My Pandemic Story,’ for children and teenagers, to encourage mental health, creative expression, learning, and coping. The book includes guidance for families and teachers. The author, Gilbert Kliman, M.D., is Director of The Children’s Psychological Health Center in San Francisco, California.