I recently participated in a webinar for public service workers called Connecting Marylanders with Food Supplement Program (FSP) Benefits. This training program by Maryland Hunger Solutions taught me how to help Pratt Library customers apply for Food Stamp Benefits using SAIL, the online benefits application system in Maryland. Federal Nutrition Programs have many names, FSP, Food Stamps, SNAP, and they provide monthly assistance to low-income families to help them buy food and eat healthy.
The training proved to be valuable beyond the initial goal of learning to navigate SAIL. I learned that the Maryland Hunger Solutions website offers great resources for planning and preparing healthy, low cost meals. I have found some of their guides such as Healthy Eating on a Budget and $16 Grocery Lists and Recipes very helpful. Their website also has information about the Food Stamp Challenge, Voices of Hunger and Hope, facts and statistics of hunger in Maryland, as well as ways to get involved to help fight hunger in Maryland.
I also enjoyed the training because as a new Library Associate I was reminded of the continued importance of libraries as a place for the community to receive help and resources. As a newcomer to the field, knowing that the institution I work for plays such an important role in the community reinforces my decision and commitment to a career in public libraries. A great article by the Public Library Association, and one that perhaps requires its own blog post, highlights 23 Reasons Why Your Library is the Most Important Place in Town.
Pratt librarians from all over the system participated in the Connecting Marylanders with FSP Benefits webinar and have the knowledge and resources to help library customers. The Enoch Pratt Free Library also helps to fight hunger in the communities we serve, the Cherry Hill, Orleans Street, and Washington Village Branches participate in The Virtual Supermarket Program. The Virtual Supermarket Program brings food to neighborhoods with low-vehicle ownership and little access to healthy foods (commonly called food deserts).
More about the Virtual Supermarket Program and other Enoch Pratt Free Library Outreach Efforts will be highlighted during the Pratt Chat’s first (exciting) Blog Series premiering next week, so please stay tuned!