A Community Effort to Help Connect Seniors to SNAP
Hunger and food insecurity affects people of all ages. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 11 percent of seniors nationwide face the threat of hunger as they struggle to pay for rent, utilities, and medication. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps eligible participants stretch their budget, allowing them access to healthy and nutritious foods, and relieving some of the pressure in having to make a tradeoff. The state of Oregon has one of the highest SNAP participation rates in the country, but is underutilized by senior citizens for various factors, such as lack of mobility, application difficulties and misunderstandings about the program and eligibility. As the senior population continues to grow, the alarming statistics of hunger and seniors must stop being overlooked.
Acknowledging the barriers that senior citizens face and the rising statistics of senior food insecurity, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon (PHFO) wanted to increase its efforts to improving senior-focused outreach by partnering with Store-to-Door. Store-to-Door is a nonprofit organization that supports independent living for Portland area seniors and people with disabilities by providing a low-cost, volunteer based grocery shopping and delivery service.
More than half of Store-to-Doors clients are eligible for SNAP but only nine percent of their clients utilize it. PHFO developed a SNAP Application Assistance Program and recruited four volunteers to support eligible Store-to-Door clients in applying for SNAP with the goal of reducing access barriers. These volunteers, collectively, have donated over 100 hours of service conducting phone calls, informing each client about SNAP, dispelling common myths, lowering barriers to participation, and connecting eligible participants to SNAP by assisting them through the application process, both over-the-phone and in-person.
The beauty of working together towards a common goal is invaluable. The results demonstrate the volunteers great work and effort. So far, the volunteers have reached out to over 220 clients – assisting 28 of them with applying to SNAP! The contribution of the volunteers has made a positive impact in the Portland community and the lives of many seniors. Interested in learning more visit PHFO.