Urban League’s Campaign Wants to SNAP Out Senior Hunger!


Only 2 out of 5 seniors who are eligible for SNAP Benefits participate

The Winston-Salem Urban League is one of more than 30 community-based organizations across the country stepping up its efforts to assist seniors in applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – formerly known as food stamps. The SNAP enrollment campaign is sponsored by the National Council on Aging. SNAP is the largest USDA nutrition program helping millions of low-income Americans access food and improve economic security and health outcomes.

According to the third edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings® Senior Report, North Carolina ranked as 32nd for senior health this year. The report highlighted one of challenges in North Carolina – a high prevalence food insecurity. “Despite documented research of seniors aged 60+ in our community who struggle with hunger and isolation, and who live on a fixed income and contend with rising food prices, convincing seniors to enroll into the SNAP program has been a slow yet steady process,” states Abio Harris of the Urban League.

According to a 2016 article in Aging magazine, compared with younger age groups, older adults who are eligible for SNAP are significantly less likely to participate in the program. “One of our goals for the SNAP Out Senior Hunger campaign is to improve access to SNAP benefits to help eliminate food insecurity. Some older Americans who have worked hard all their lives are hesitant to enroll; it often takes time – sometimes days – to convince them.”

Eligible Participants are Missing Out

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates just 2 out of every 5 seniors who are eligible for SNAP are enrolled in the program. This means that millions of low-income older adults are missing out on this vital program, which provides an average monthly benefit of $110 to help participants buy healthy food. Additionally, seniors may not be aware that they may deduct medical and other expenses when they apply to increase their SNAP benefit.

Eligibility for SNAP depends on your resources and income. To calculate your income for eligibility purposes, certain expenses are deducted from your total income. This includes medical expenses of more than $35 a month if they are not paid for by Medicaid, Medicare or an insurance company.

SNAP can be used to purchase food or food-related products, but not to buy alcohol, tobacco, vitamins, or hot food. Your monthly SNAP amount varies depending on your household’s size and income. The money is distributed through a plastic EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card, much like a debit card, which can be used at most grocery stores, as well as some local farmer’s markets, such as the Dixie Classic Fair and Cobblestones farmer’s markets.

The Urban League’s history of assisting seniors is well documented through its programming efforts such as Senior Community Service Employment Program, as well as through referrals to the general public to a range of services such as the energy assistance program, the national lifeline phone program and referrals to local partners for a number of programs.

The Winston-Salem Urban League

Located in downtown Winston-Salem at 201 W. Fifth Street; experienced SNAP advocates are ready to assist seniors to gain access to nutritious food through SNAP. Applicants who apply through the Urban League do not wait in long lines to be seen. The SNAP application process takes less than 30 minutes and the Urban League does all the legwork for you. Call our office today to make your appointment and SNAP Out Senior Hunger!

The Winston-Salem Urban League is a non-profit organization focused on helping community residents secure economic self-reliance to meet the demands of today’s job market through training and education. The agency provides a comprehensive training and paid work experience program for over 300 seniors annually as well as a summer youth program for the general public. Its role in conducting SNAP eligibility enhances the services the agency provides to seniors. To find out more about SNAP eligibility, contact our office at 336-725-5614, visit us at WSUrban.org, or email Abio Harris aharris@nullwsurban.org.


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