Philly nonprofits, caterers feeding homeless population during shutdown

By KYW Newsradio 1060

UPDATED: 3:16 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Three nonprofits are joining forces with three local caterers to provide more meals for people experiencing homelessness, while the city is shut down.

They’re calling the effort Step up to the Plate.

The goal is to provide 1,000 meals in two locations: one on the north apron of City Hall and one in Kensington.

Meals will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekdays.

The catering companies are providing the food at cost so the nonprofits can focus on preparation and distribution.

Both sites will also have health care services and other resources available.

Mural Arts is providing decorative decals to mark off spaces so people can keep social distancing while waiting. More than 700 of them have already been placed near the City Hall site.

The shutdown has hit the homeless population hard. It’s reduced the opportunities to panhandle, as well as the number of volunteers willing to venture out for meal service.

Step up to the Plate combines the efforts of the Broad Street Ministry, Project HOME and Prevention Point with private partners, Catering by Design, 12th Street Catering and Herb Scott catering.

In other Philadelphia coronavirus developments:

Tax collection 

Philadelphia’s tax revenue is not yet showing the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown. Revenue was up for the first three months of this year.

The city collected $383 million in taxes for the quarter that ended March 31 — an increase of about $1.5 million, even though the quarter ended more than two weeks into the stay-at-home order. 

The city also extended the real estate tax deadline until the end of April.

The figures come from the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Agency (PICA). The agency warns taxes are almost certain to decrease in the next quarter.

Philly case count

The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced another 604 cases of COVID-19 and 42 fatalities, bringing the total to 8,045 cases and 264 deaths across the city.

Of those who died, more than half were in long-term care facilities.

April 16, 2020 @PhiladelphiaGov COVID-19 update:604 new cases8,045 total cases42 new deaths264 total deathsFor more information: https://t.co/f9BNUvQiUu pic.twitter.com/czwMfOOD8p

— Philadelphia Public Health (@PHLPublicHealth) April 16, 2020

The number of new cases is about twice as many as have been reported in the last few days, but Health Commissioner Tom Farley said that’s largely because the city received twice as many test results as they have the last few days. 

The erratic reporting makes it hard to follow the trends, which he said is vital to determining whether the city has reached a plateau and can look forward to decreasing numbers of cases.

“We may have hit a plateau. I can’t say we’re seeing decreases yet. I would love to see decreases. I can’t say we’re there yet,” he said.

That decrease has to occur before the city would consider relaxing its stay-at-home rules. Mayor Jim Kenney said the city will decide that for itself, regardless of if the White House decides to reopen.

“That wouldn’t happen here in Philadelphia until the science and the medical folks tell us that it’s OK to do it,” the mayor said. “I think that’s pretty much the consensus in the majority of the country where there are large populations, because we would knowingly be putting people’s health and life in danger.”

The mayor added life may never go back to what it was less than two months ago.

Liacouras Center is prepared

Temple University’s Liacouras Center, which was prepped as a surge facility space if hospitals become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, is now “ready to accept patients,” said Kenney, though city officials hope they do not have to use it.

“We are grateful to all of our partners, including our host Temple University, for the incredibly smooth transition of this site from an empty arena to a fully functioning hospital,” he said.

Currently, the city is hosting members of the National Guard to help advise on best practices for establishing field hospitals.

___

For more resources regarding COVID-19, visit phila.gov/covid-19 or call the Greater Philadelphia Coronavirus Helpline at 1-800-722-7112.