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AARP, Local Organizations Unite to Fight Hunger

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— Anne Rippy/Getty Images

AARP Connecticut and the AARP Foundation have joined forces with End Hunger CT!, Foodshare, Inc., the Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS), and the Hispanic Health Council to increase enrollment in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, helps low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health and helps clients learn to make healthy eating and active lifestyle choices.

“While many families are busy planning for festive meals this holiday season, thousands of older adults are faced with the challenge of simply putting food on the table,” said AARP State Director Brenda Kelley.

In Connecticut, only 34% of eligible older adults receive food assistance—leaving millions of dollars in federal aid untouched. The most common reason people do not receive SNAP benefits is that they don’t realize they may be eligible.

To make it easier for people to find out if they are eligible and apply for assistance, the organizations are utilizing a toll-free phone number, 1-866-974-SNAP (7627), manned by trained volunteers that will be available year-round.

New Changes To SNAP Increase Eligibility

Based on changes to SNAP implemented last year, an additional 70,000 older adults in Connecticut may now qualify for assistance. If someone has monthly income of around $1,000/month or less, and/or struggles to make ends meet, there is a chance they might be eligible.

According to Lucy Nolan, Executive Director of End Hunger CT!, “You may qualify even if you work, receive Social Security, SSI and/or retirement benefits. You may also be eligible if you own a home or car, have money in the bank, or live with others.”

Once a person’s application is approved, benefits automatically get loaded on a debit-style card which is accepted at most grocery stores and there are no hidden fees.

In 2009, the average monthly benefit for an older adult was $134.

“The SNAP application process can be confusing, but people should know that many community-based agencies provide guidance in English and Spanish,’’ said Grace Damio, Director of the Hispanic Health Council’s Center for Community Nutrition. “Many people do not realize they are eligible, so it’s a good idea to ask for help.’’

To find out if you or someone you know may qualify for SNAP, call 1-866-974-SNAP (7627).

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