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Eat Right Even When Money is Tight

Thousands in Massachusetts are currently getting help with their monthly grocery bill, are you? That’s right: you, a family member, neighbor, or friend may be eligible for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

See Also: Proposed Budget Cut Threatens Meal Program in Massachusetts

SNAP is currently helping 48 million Americans with their monthly grocery bill. However, here in the Bay State, 63 percent of residents age 60 and older – that’s nearly 119,000 seniors – are eligible for SNAP but have not signed up.

For older adults with limited incomes, especially those who live alone; SNAP can make a big difference. SNAP benefits average about $130 a month and can help prevent seniors from having to make tough choices between buying food or medicine.

What is SNAP?

A federal program, administered at the state level, SNAP helps families and seniors buy the nutritious food they need for good health. The cornerstone of the nation’s nutrition safety net, SNAP helps prevent and alleviate food insecurity and hunger. In Massachusetts, SNAP works in tandem with the Elder Nutrition Program, which provides home-delivered meals to older persons as well as meals at senior centers and other central locations.

Does SNAP equal “food stamps”?

The old routine of standing in the grocery store line while people watch recipients tear food stamp coupons from a book is no more. Once your application is approved, benefits automatically get loaded on a debit-style card which is accepted at most grocery stores, and even some farmers markets and co-op food programs. There are no hidden fees.

Eligibility is based on household size, income and certain expenses, such as out-of-pocket health care costs for seniors. Those with regular income from Social Security or a pension may still receive SNAP benefits.

Who should apply?

Any older Massachusetts resident who needs help paying for groceries should apply for SNAP. Some things to know for people age 60 and older:

  • If your monthly out-of-pocket medical expenses are higher than $35 per month, you can receive a medical deduction ($90 or higher).
  • For most, assets such as savings and investments will not be counted. Under no circumstances will the house you are living in or your IRA be included as an asset.
  • You do not have to comply with work requirements.

If your household consists of only an older or disabled person with a stable income (Social Security, for example), you may be SNAP “certified” for two years, meaning you will not need to update your information until 24 months after you apply.

Find out if you qualify today

Everyone has the opportunity to eat right, even when money is tight. Visit Project Bread’s online resource to check your SNAP availability or call the Project Bread FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333. Western Massachusetts residents can call the Food Bank at 1-800-247-9632.

Find out if you or a loved one qualifies today.