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FeedMore WNY aims to increase SNAP participation among older adults

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Thu, Jun 3rd 2021 12:00 pm

Nonprofit pilots SNAP enrollment program thanks to National Council on Aging grant

FeedMore WNY is expanding its efforts to assist older adults in applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – formerly known as food stamps. The hunger-relief nonprofit is one of 40 organizations throughout the country to receive a $50,000 grant from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to enhance access to SNAP for qualifying low-income older adults through community-based outreach and enrollment initiatives.

FeedMore WNY uses NCOA’s free online BenefitsCheckUp tool at www.BenefitsCheckUp.org to screen older adults with limited income for SNAP eligibility. The initiative aims to help at least 40,000 older adults nationwide enroll in SNAP.

“We’ve heard from older adults and our local partners that accessing and paying for food is a critical need right now,” said Josh Hodges, NCOA chief customer officer. “Food, on average, is the second highest household expenditure for people aged 60-plus, and too often they have to stretch their food budget in order to make ends meet. That’s where SNAP can help.”

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 9.8 million older adults in the U.S. experienced food insecurity, meaning they lacked consistent access to adequate, nutritious food. Today, those numbers are quickly rising. SNAP is the nation’s most effective and widest-reaching antihunger program. Research by Center for Budget and Policy Priorities shows that participation in SNAP reduces food insecurity overall by 30%, yet the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates only 48% of eligible older adults ages 60 and older participate in the program.

“We are proud to be part of a SNAP enrollment initiative that has the potential to help tens of thousands of low-income older adults improve their health and financial security,” said Lauren Merriman, FeedMore WNY SNAP outreach coordinator. “FeedMore WNY has a strong history of helping aging community members in need. In fact, 31,500 older adults relied on our organization for nutritious food last year. We are confident that increasing SNAP enrollment with BenefitsCheckUp and other proven outreach methods will have a profound effect on older adults in Western New York.”

FeedMore WNY has been performing outreach through its mobile food pantry distributions, member food pantries and home-delivered meal sites, as well as partnering with older adult independent living complexes, COVID-19 vaccination clinics, grocery stores and other entities to reach qualifying older adults. To learn more about FeedMore WNY’s SNAP enrollment initiative and to see if you may qualify, contact Merriman at 716-822-2005, ext. 3052, or [email protected].

FeedMore WNY offers dignity, hope and a brighter future by providing nutritious food, friendship and skills training to its Western New York neighbors in need. Through its food bank distribution center and partner hunger-relief agencies, as well as its home-delivered meal program and other targeted feeding programs, FeedMore WNY alleviates hunger and assists community members of all ages throughout Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties. More information can be found at www.feedmorewny.org.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a trusted national leader working to ensure that every person can age well. Since 1950, its mission has not changed: Improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. Learn more at www.ncoa.org.

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