By Tamas Mondovics
In an effort to increase older adult Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment, Hillsborough County Aging Services has partnered with the National Council of Aging (NCOA) on a nationwide effort to provide further access to healthy foods in addition to promoting health and wellness services.
According to Felicia Southers, a coordinator with Aging Services, the County received a $25,000 grant from the NCOA, to help older adults access SNAP.
According to NCOA, in the U.S., more than four million low-income adults over age 60 rely on SNAP to stay healthy and make ends meet. Unfortunately, three out of five seniors who qualify for SNAP do not apply, which means that millions of seniors miss out on benefits.
Officials said many seniors face barriers related to mobility, technology, and stigma and are discouraged by widespread myths about how the program works and who can qualify.
Breaking the numbers down to the State level, currently there are 319,000 senior Floridians enrolled in SNAP and, with the more than 264,000 seniors over 60 living within the borders of Hillsborough County, the potential for a much larger enrollment is very real.
“Our agency was the only one in Florida that received the $25,000 grant,” Southers said, adding that the financial support provides the means to assist our eligible seniors over 60 in applying for the SNAP program.
The new funds now available are said to cover the expenses of the agency’s outreach efforts such as public meetings, flyers, as well as covering volunteers travel expenses as they spread the word in hopes of enrolling at least 500 seniors by next spring.
“Eligible seniors will receive an average monthly benefit of $113 to help purchase healthy food,” she said. “This program puts sufficient nutrition within reach for seniors who live on a fixed income.”
Besides the food supplement, Southers emphasized that enrolling in SNAP—formerly known as the Food Stamp program—will have a profound effect on the lives of seniors in Hillsborough County.
“One key to this effort is that registering for the program can open the way for additional benefits our senior residents may be eligible to receive,” she said.
For eligibility requirements visit SNAP or for further information on NCOA’s senior hunger initiative, visit www.ncoa.org/SeniorHunger.