Educating yourself (and others) about SNAP
Jul 30, 2012, 8:15 a.m.
Millions of Americans are taking advantage of federal nutritional assistance programs that exist to help lower income families and individuals. The SNAP Nutrition program is basically an updated version of the well-known food stamp program that was originated in the mid-1960s. This newer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is currently not being fully utilized by many senior Americans it was designed to benefit.
Among older Americans who are eligible for SNAP Nutrition, about a third of approximately 7 million have signed up. Only 2.4 million seniors are taking advantage of SNAP, and the government U.S. Department of Agriculture would like to see this program fully implemented to all who are eligible.
Similar to the food stamp program, SNAP has basic income requirements for eligibility. It is adjusted automatically for inflation and Congress upgraded SNAP also to raise minimum benefit levels. The USDA calculates that an average household will spend about 30 percent of their income on food each month. Under SNAP, the benefits available for food start at $200 for an individual, $367 for a two-person household, and four-person households receive food benefits totally $668.
The government is concerned that seniors may not be aware of this program, or are not using it for other reasons. They would like to see more seniors sign up for the SNAP Nutrition program. Nutrition is important, especially for older persons, as they can help ward off many physical problems and diseases if they are getting proper nutrition in their diet. Lack of food is a problem for many seniors who often try to balance expenses for medicine, housing and transportation against food. Government nutritional assistance programs can help older low income Americans deal with their budgetary stresses by providing at least a good portion of their monthly food supply.
Persons who are interested in applying for SNAP can do so online or at a local state office. More information about SNAP nutritional assistance programs can be found online at the USDA website. Remember that each state has its own application; you should apply through your home state office or online for that particular state. Not every county will have online application capability. There is no stigma regarding this program; it is for those Americans who need a little extra help obtaining food. SNAP was created in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
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