Nashville resident Vernell McHenry's only income is a $674 monthly disability payment. To help make ends meet, she enrolled in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps.
While others may consider the $40 in food assistance she receives each month a paltry amount, McHenry, 55, sees it differently. "Every little bit these days helps."
See also: SNAP primer: What are the benefits?
McHenry's situation is all too common among older Tennesseans. More than 90,000 of the state's 60-plus population who are eligible for SNAP haven't applied for it, the federal government reports.
AARP Tennessee wants to change those statistics and has organized events to encourage more older people to enroll in SNAP, draw public awareness to hunger among the state's senior population and collect nonperishable goods for food banks.
AARP Tennessee will organize a Day of Service on Friday, Sept. 9, as part of a series of events throughout the month that will focus on hunger.
- AARP volunteers in the Memphis area will conduct a food drive to help the Mid-South Food Bank. Its operations were stretched thin by people who needed emergency food assistance after last spring's floods. The agency provides food to soup kitchens and food pantries in 12 rural Tennessee counties.
- AARP volunteers will help the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee sort donations at the agency's warehouse in Gray. Some will also help distribute supplies to food pantries in eight counties.
- In Nashville, AARP members will be encouraged to attend the weekly Friday luncheon at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and then participate in a "sorting party" to organize donated items. The food bank distributes food to more than 400 nonprofits in 46 counties.
Information about each event, including locations and times, is at aarp.org/tn or available by calling 1-866-295-7274 toll-free.
At each event and through other venues, AARP Tennessee will also distribute material describing who is eligible to receive SNAP benefits and how to apply for them.
To check your eligibility for assistance, use the Benefits QuickLink tool on aarp.org.