I'm delighted to share the news that hard work pays off.
The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) has decided to create a brand-new, senior-only SNAP application for people 60-plus who do not have earned income — something AARP and the AARP Foundation have been encouraging for some time.
This means that the 200,000 Georgians age 60-plus who are eligible for SNAP but not receiving it will have a much easier time navigating the application process and getting the help they need to buy food.
Georgia's DHS has asked the foundation and AARP Georgia to be its lead partner in this effort, largely because of the successful SNAP enrollment program our organizations have been running for the last year, which uses ads, direct mail and church bulletin notices to encourage older people to contact us for help with SNAP enrollment. Since the program began, more than 2,000 people 60 and older have signed up. Eileen Browning is one of them.
Last winter, Eileen left her rent-controlled apartment in New York and moved south to Atlanta, which had less snow and more family. Atlanta's weather was better, but not its housing costs. Utility deposits and "affordable" housing cost more than she thought it would, and it wasn't long before she was being charged late fees on her bills. She scrimped on food because her money often ran out before the end of the month.
One day she received a flier from the AARP Foundation/AARP Georgia in the mail. "I saw they were helping people apply for food stamps, and I called, even though I felt doubtful. Monique [at the AARP Foundation] called me back and told me everything she would do to help me. She did, too — this young lady is something else!" Eileen says. Her first SNAP benefits arrived in July, and Eileen had enough to eat all month.
The thousands of stories like Eileen's make our work even more meaningful. During the last quarter of 2012, we'll build on the success of our Georgia program and expand our SNAP outreach to Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Texas.
This terrific news about our SNAP work arrived just in time to help us kick off September's Hunger Action Month. Increasing senior enrollment in SNAP is just one of the efforts the AARP Foundation has undertaken since making a strategic commitment to combating older-adult hunger almost two years ago. Just look at the numbers:
- 13 million meals for hungry older people.
- More than 76 million media impressions and $34.5 million worth of earned (i.e., free) media.
- Groundbreaking research on hunger among those ages 50 to 59.