Tens of thousands of older adults don’t apply for benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and chief among the reasons is pride. But hunger prevention experts who gathered at AARP Colorado for its June 30 Summit on Hunger said those who qualify for programs like SNAP – the former food-stamp program – would be doing American farming a favor by participating.
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“These programs are designed to strengthen U.S. agriculture,” said Bart Bushman of the USDA. “When you’re signing up for SNAP, you’re strengthening American farmers.”
There’s a reason such programs, including those that give out commodities, fall under the USDA. In the bigger picture, it’s about the health of agribusiness, and being able to trade in surpluses is part of how farming works. Therefore, it’s very important for those who qualify for supplement food programs to help Ag by applying for SNAP, Bushman said.
In addition to the USDA, representatives from AARP Colorado and AARP Colorado Foundation, Hunger Free Colorado, the Denver Regional Council of Governments, Health and Human Services, Jewish Family Services, Rose Foundation and SNAP gathered for the round-table discussion about how to get more nutritious food into the hands of needy seniors. The summit, hosted by AARP Colorado and the AARP Colorado Foundation was moderated by Kathy Underhill of Hunger Free Colorado.
“It was a remarkable collaboration,” said AARP State Director Morie Smile. “Everyone here has similar goals, but they had never sat down together and talked. This is the first time they all came to the table together and it is a big deal in Colorado. I’m proud it was AARP Colorado and the Foundation that made it happen.”
Underhill said 460,000 people in Colorado receive SNAP, but the goal is to ensure everyone who is eligible for the program receives the benefits. The group will focus on outreach, bringing more partners to the table and let people know that their participation in SNAP is good for American business, as well as their individual health.