AARP believes that no one—of any age—should go hungry. Yet the current economic downturn, with an increasing number of laid off workers, is forcing many older people to make the devastating choice to either pay for their medications or their groceries.
Fortunately, there are programs that can help alleviate much of the worry and anxiety associated with how to pay for groceries each month. The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) is seeing a steady increase in the number of Kansans applying for food assistance. In June, 105,000 households in Kansas were receiving food assistance, compared to just over 87,000 households at the same time last year. That is a 20.7% increase in the program which means that more than 231,800 Kansas are currently receiving food assistance.
For older adults with limited incomes, especially those who live alone, food assistance programs can help improve overall health. The healthier people are, the more likely they will be able to take care of their daily needs and live independently.
Due to the stimulus package, struggling individuals and families have seen an increase in their benefits of almost 14 percent. This is an increase of between $24 and $144 a month depending on how many people live in their household. Eligibility and benefit amounts are based on household size and monthly income. Income eligibility guidelines are based on 130% of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, the maximum gross monthly income limit is $2,297.
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 a person’s application is approved, benefits automatically get loaded on a debit-style card which is accepted at most grocery stores and at 12 Farmers’ Markets in Kansas. There are no hidden fees. The average monthly benefit for older Americans is $72 for individuals and $90 per household.
The Food Assistance Program can be a life changing value for individuals, families and communities, but only if the millions of qualified individuals apply for the benefit. Kansas officials estimate that approximately 100,000 Kansans could be eligible for food assistance, but have not applied for the program.
In these tough economic times, AARP remains staunchly committed to connecting those in need with information and access to programs, which offer real relief and assistance in navigating their basic life needs. We encourage all older Americans and those care for them to learn more about the Food Assistance Program and apply if they’re eligible.
See if you or a loved one qualifies. Everyone has the opportunity to eat right, even when money is tight.
Applications are available at your local SRS Service Center or Access Point, or can be requested by calling toll free 1-888-369-4777. Online applications are available at srskansas.org.
What information you need to share with SRS:
- Identification such as birth certificate or driver’s license
- Non-citizen documentation if you are not a U.S. citzen
- Social security number for you and any household members who are applying for food assistance
- Proof of earned and unearned income
- Proof of assets such as checking and savings account balances.