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Helping Seniors Put Food on the Table

More than 10 million older adults are at risk of hunger every day.

Helping Seniors Put Food on the Table

aldomurillo via Istock

ESAP increases senior participation in SNAP

Older adults who face hunger are 50% more likely to have diabetes, 60% more likely to have congestive heart failure or a heart attack, and three times more likely to suffer from depression. Research shows that having access to and consuming nutritious food on a regular basis can help improve health, preventing or alleviating many diet-related diseases — which ultimately reduces health care costs and improves quality of life.

There’s a solution — and it’s a SNAP.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, can help prevent hunger by providing eligible adults and their families with financial assistance to purchase nutritious food.

Yet only 45% of eligible seniors participate in SNAP — the lowest participation rate of all demographic groups. The reasons for this include confusion about eligibility, stigmas around asking for help, and a burdensome application process.

SNAP now offers a shorter, simplified application process for seniors.

The Elderly Simplified Application Project (ESAP) makes it easier for older adults to participate in SNAP by streamlining the application process and extending the certification period — helping households enroll in SNAP and stay enrolled longer.

ESAP increases senior participation in SNAP in three ways:

1.       Uses data matches to reduce the amount of verification information seniors have to provide.

2.       Extends the certification period to 36 months.

3.       Waives the recertification interview requirement.

AARP Foundation has built on the existing ESAP, providing grants to community-based organizations in six states; we’re currently preparing to expand grantmaking to organizations in four more states in 2019. With grants from the Foundation, the organizations are able to field more calls, answer more questions, and sign more seniors up for SNAP.