More than $2 billion in public benefits goes unclaimed by eligible individuals and families in New York City each year. In response, CSS’s Benefits Plus Learning Center provides in-depth training and technical assistance to social service providers like Maria Pacheco of Westside Campaign Against Hunger (WSCAH).
Helping those who never thought they'd need it
Benefits Plus helps Maria and other WSCAH staff augment their emergency food assistance with more long-term help such as connecting individuals and families to food stamps and low-cost health insurance.
The lingering recession and high unemployment have greatly increased the need for Maria and WSCAH’s services. “We’re seeing people who never thought they would go to a food pantry—laid off teachers, nursing students, and working people ” says Maria. “On a given day I might see 75 clients, but without the CSS trainings, I can’t always connect them to the right benefits.” With ongoing trainings and Benefits Plus Manual, CSS puts the right information in her hands. “The first thing I do when I come to work is log into the Benefits Plus site, so I know I have backup when I need it. The trainings and manual give us solid information, which builds trust with those we work with. That helps me feel more confident about the difference I can make in peoples’ lives.”