The holidays are beginning to creep closer and closer. While a happy time for many, it is often a season of worry for others. Sadly, Maine ranks highest in New England for hunger, and every day, older Mainers skip meals and struggle to put food on their table. You can help older Mainers get the food they need by becoming a volunteer with AARP Foundation and connecting them with SNAP.
SNAP, otherwise known as the Food Supplement Program, is one of this country’s most effective tools to address hunger and poverty. SNAP provides monthly benefits to eligible people who meet income requirements which are distributed on an Electronic Benefits Card (EBT). The EBT card acts much like a debit or credit card, and can be used in many stores and some farmers markets. One of the positive aspects of SNAP is it is used for food products designed to create meals at home, including some seeds used to grow food. Unfortunately, there is a gap within a demographic of people not receiving these incredibly useful benefits.
Surprisingly, only one third of SNAP-eligible people 60+ are enrolled in this program. With a minimum benefit of $15 and an average benefit of $148 for 60+, SNAP is a useful tool to help people gain access to the food they need to maintain healthy during the cold winter months. Then why are only a third of eligible people 60+ enrolled?
Well, there are many factors; two of which include: myths and misconception surrounding SNAP and barriers applying for the program. This is why AARP Foundation is searching for volunteers to help older Mainers gain access to SNAP. Brooke Libby, an AmeriCorps VISTA partnered with AARP Foundation and AARP Maine is looking for volunteers to help end hunger all over the state. Brooke has two types of volunteer positions available:
SNAP Outreach Assistant: Increase awareness and educate community members about SNAP facts and their potential eligibility for benefits within county of residence, with a focus on older Mainers (50+).
Application Assistant: Pre-screen older Mainers (50+) for SNAP eligibility, as well as facilitate the application process (assist with documentation checklist, help schedule appointments with local DHHS etc.).
Hunger is a year-long struggle that is most apparent during the holidays. Volunteering with AARP Foundation will provide you with the training and the knowledge to be able to successfully help older Mainers overcome barriers and gain access to healthy food. If you want to volunteer to help end hunger, even if neither position seems to fit, please contact Brooke at 207-776-6313 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to get involved. Let’s leave hunger in the dust!
AARP Foundation VISTA Volunteer
SNAP Outreach Coordinator