With the start of another new year, we all look for new ways to transform ourselves and our lives. Some make resolutions to lose weight, while others try to kick a habit they wish they had never started.
For me, I look forward to the beginning of a new year as a time to make improvements, in both my personal or professional life.
Professionally, I am part of the agency relations department at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. Right now, our department is going through its’ own transformation, particularly for those of us who deal with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.
The Foodbank’s service territory encompasses 14 counties in Missouri and 12 counties in Illinois. In 2012, we were only able to provide SNAP outreach assistance to clients at our partner agencies in our Illinois counties.
That meant thousands of clients in Missouri were left to navigate their own way through the sometimes complicated process of applying for SNAP.
But now, with the start of 2013, we will be able to provide SNAP assistance to all clients visiting one of our more than 500 partner agencies in both Illinois and Missouri.
This new ability to provide SNAP assistance to Missouri clients seeking food assistance means a great deal to families in need. Many of these families never had the opportunity or the means to apply for SNAP themselves.
Many were not able to make it to their local Illinois Department of Human Services office or Missouri Department of Social Services, the sites where they can apply for SNAP.
For some rural clients, there is no local aid office where they can receive assistance. Even if there is an office in a neighboring county, many of our clients do not have the transportation – or gas money – to get there.
Many clients don’t even know they are eligible for SNAP, and some need that extra nudge to look into additional assistance for their families.
Now that we’re able to provide SNAP assistance in both states, the Foodbank is expanding our SNAP outreach efforts to senior facilities.
We will now visit senior apartments and centers where we provide supplemental boxes of food to low-income seniors through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
Now, not only will be able to provide almost 10,000 seniors with a much-needed box of food, but we will be able to assist them with food stamp applications. We can help them ensure they are utilizing all food assistance programs available to them.
We are very excited about these new opportunities to help our clients in need. This year will be a great one at the St. Louis Area Foodbank. I hope you will continue supporting us along the way as we continue to fight hunger in our community.
For SNAP assistance in Missouri email Suzi Seeker at firstname.lastname@example.org; in Illinois, contact Andrea Hale at email@example.com.
Andrea Hale is the SNAP Outreach Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank.