SNAP GAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/Gaining Applicants to the Program)

To ensure that low-income individuals have resources available to help alleviate hunger, Southeast Missouri Food Bank began assisting families in 2012 to access available SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. SNAP benefits are the first line of defense in providing hunger relief.

This outreach is possible because of the Food Bank’s partnership with Missouri Food Bank Association and the Missouri Promoting Food Security Program.

Why is SNAP outreach important?

SNAP outreach helps connect eligible individuals in need of food assistance with the monthly nutrition assistance that SNAP provides. Given high rates of unemployment, poverty, and food insecurity across the nation, SNAP outreach is an appropriate intervention to help protect families from hunger and provide them with the resources they need to return to economic stability and self-sufficiency. Connecting struggling households with food assistance also has long-term payoffs for the community. Hunger increases health care costs, lowers worker productivity, exacerbates seniors’ medical conditions, harms children’s development and diminishes their educational performance—costs that we cannot afford and that undermine the fabric of our communities.

What kind of impact does SNAP outreach have?

The focus on SNAP outreach and other policy improvements have helped strengthen the ability of SNAP to reach eligible participants. Nationally, SNAP participation rates increased from 54 percent in FY2002 to 75 percent in FY2010, a 39 percent improvement. Unfortunately, that means that a quarter of those eligible for assistance are still not receiving benefits. While some eligible individuals may not wish to enroll in SNAP, others may not be aware that they are eligible or know how to apply for benefits. SNAP outreach is particularly important for underserved populations, like seniors. Seniors participate at a significantly lower rate than other individuals. The participation rate for eligible elderly individuals living alone was 43 percent in FY2010, and even lower for seniors living with other individuals (24 percent). 

Why are food banks engaged in SNAP outreach?

Southeast Missouri Food Bank is a part of their state’s official SNAP outreach plan aimed at reaching eligible, low-income families who are not participating in the program but who are in need of food assistance. Food banks are a natural partner in SNAP outreach because of their direct connection to food insecure families in the community. Many families seeking assistance at food pantries are in need of more than one-time, emergency food assistance. By connecting eligible families with SNAP, food banks help provide food insecure households with a more consistent and stable means to purchase their own food.

To learn more contact either Joyce Wollenburg, Food & Nutrition Services Coordinator at 573.382.5851.
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