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Older West Virginians May Be Going Hungry Unnecessarily

AARP and the AARP Foundation urge older West Virginians, and those who care for them, to take advantage of the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program).

The program can help put food on the table during tough economic times, according to Gaylene Miller, state director for AARP West Virginia. She said, “Helping people with limited incomes enroll in available benefits programs allows them to remain healthier and improves the quality of their lives.”

According to the USDA, in West Virginia only half of those who are eligible take advantage of the benefit; nationally, only about 34 percent of eligible older Americans participate.

“Today in West Virginia, thousands people over age 65 are living in poverty,” said Scott Adkins, program manager with the AARP Foundation. “Many have to choose between going to the grocery store and paying their bills—this isn’t a choice anyone should have to make. AARP and the AARP Foundation can help make ends meet using the Benefits QuickLINK program.”

Miller said to get started that older West Virginians, and those who care, for them should call 1-800-799-4638 or visit AARP’s Benefits QuickLINK.

AARP’s Benefits QuickLINK site is a one-stop resource to:

  • Fill out a quick online survey to determine if people are eligible.
  • Find the local office that gives out food benefits.
  • Get a list of required documents.
  • Print out the state application or apply online.

Adkins said that people who are 60 and older may qualify for food assistance if:

  • Their net monthly income (after subtracting certain expenses, including housing and medical costs, child care and eldercare) is below $903 for a single person or $1,214 for a married couple.
  • They have no more than $3,000 in countable resources, like a bank account.
  • They receive Supplemental Security Income or SSI.
  • They live in federally subsidized housing for the elderly even if they receive meals at the facility.

Participants get a special debit card to use at most grocery stores, certain senior centers, farmer’s markets and meal delivery services, according to Adkins. He said the card is used just like a credit card and the cost of groceries is deducted from the account balance. New benefits are added automatically every month.

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