I don’t know where to begin to thank you for all the help Janet Perez did to get the SNAP program for my mom. My mom was able to purchase foods she wasn’t able to afford in the past. It gave her a great feeling to know she can afford to go grocery shopping and take care of herself.
In 2015 AOASCC was awarded a grant by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to get the word out about the benefits of healthy eating and to assist older adults in applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). AOASCC exceeded the goals of the grant, and the staff’s work was so exemplary that the NCOA used our program as a Best Practices Model to help guide other community organizations as they began their own programs. A video featuring AOASCC is posted on their website.
It was clear that there was more work to be done, so AOASCC applied for and was awarded a subsequent grant from the NCOA funding two more years of education and SNAP enrollment assistance.
Statistics highlighting food insecurity among older adults are clear. 15.5% of adults aged 60+ in the U.S. face the threat of hunger and food insecurity is growing among older adults. The food insecurity rate for all senior households was 8.9% in 2014, up from 5.5% in 2001. At the same time, the percentage of seniors facing the threat of hunger has more than doubled. (NCOA)
Dr. Beverly Kidder, Director of AOASCC’s Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), knows these statistics firsthand through her work on local advocacy committees. In fact, New Haven County has the highest rate of food insecurity in the state at 13.9%.
Dr. Kidder makes it clear that the ADRC’s work is more than just helping people access benefits, as important as that is. “Individuals need to be aware of the benefits of healthy eating. Through NCOA materials, we are able to help people learn how to shop with SNAP. We make people aware of the fresh air markets in their area and how they can utilize SNAP to grow gardens.” Plans are in place to even hold cooking demonstrations with a nutritionist. “The word needs to get out that SNAP is there to help you stay healthy.”
According to the NCOA, 3 out of 5 older adults who are eligible for SNAP benefits don’t apply. In her experience, Dr. Kidder sees that both lack of knowledge and a stigma about accepting help are the two main obstacles that need to be overcome. “We need to destigmatize access in the same way that access to Social Security is. SNAP is not a welfare benefit.”