Local agency stays focused on connecting Hancock residents with food, utility help

by GEOFF FOX

Last year, Interfaith Service Coalition (ISC) began helping Hancock residents in need sign up for the food stamp, or SNAP, program in Maryland.

Over the last year, Deb Cohill, Director of ISC, said there had been around 80 people sign up for the assistance program.

She said those who would need the help could call her at her office at 301-678-6605 to schedule an appointment to get everything straightened away.

Cohill said the process takes about 25 to 30 minutes to complete and the person would need proof of income, photo ID, Social Security card, and “things like that.”

“When they call me to schedule a time, I’d go over everything with them,” she said.

Since the pandemic started, Cohill said there hasn’t been a rise in number of people looking for assistance from ISC and those 80 people who had signed up since ISC started helping with SNAP have been spread out over that year.

Unlike other areas that have seen the trend of people registering for SNAP, Hancock has be “very, very blessed” with the amount of food that had been donated.

Cohill credits donations from the likes of local farmers, DOT Foods, and Maryland Food Bank along with donations of perishable foods as well.

There have been donations of milk, eggs, and even fresh produce to ISC’s food bank. DOT Foods has also made food drops for distribution.

Some food drops have been close 24,000 pounds of food with the most recent being over 20,000 pounds.

“We were blessed since the pandemic started,” she said.

ISC helps those with electric bills when needed, but Cohill said that hasn’t been the case over the last few months of the pandemic.

Since the pandemic started First Energy has not been sending termination notices to customers.

However, Cohill anticipates a lot of people who have not paid are going to be in trouble with not being able to pay their bill.

According to its website, First Energy has announced it will resume disconnects for non-payment no sooner than November 15 for residential service in Maryland. Nonresidential disconnects for non-payment began on October 1.

The company said they’d continue to assist customers during the coronavirus pandemic and its aftereffects.

“I’m hoping people are doing the smart thing and paying their bills,” Cohill said.

She said should people find themselves in the need for assistance should they get a termination notice, ISC would help them as much as possible.

Cohill said those folks could contact the ISC office to set up an appointment.

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