2 out of 3 Seniors Missing Out on Food Benefits
New Simplified Application Seeks to Increase Participation
February 23, 2012 ( Burlington , VT) – More than 95,000 Vermonters currently receive 3SquaresVT (formerly Food Stamps) benefits ranking Vermont 5th in the nation for reaching those in need. However, only 30% of Vermont ’s eligible seniors, age 60 and over, get these important food benefits to help them stay healthy and independent. The Department for Children and Families (DCF) is working hard, along with anti-hunger and senior advocates, to change that.
Hunger among older Americans is a growing problem in the United States , with about 9 million seniors at risk of hunger. 6% of Vermont senior households are food insecure—meaning at times they lack enough money and other resources for food—and more than 2,500 households that include a senior seek assistance from a food shelf each month. “Hunger and the risk of hunger among the elderly have a significant impact on health and well-being,” says Angela Smith-Dieng, 3SquaresVT Advocacy Manager at Hunger Free Vermont. “Food insecure seniors are more likely to be diabetic, suffer from depression and have limited daily activities. Further, the health impacts of food insecurity make it more difficult for a senior to remain independent and living in their home.”
Why aren’t all hungry seniors getting 3SquaresVT? One of the difficulties seniors face when applying for 3SquaresVT food benefits is completion of the long application, currently designed to help all populations apply for multiple programs. To make it easier for seniors, DCF has recently launched a new shortened and simplified application just for 3SquaresVT targeted to seniors on fixed incomes. People with disabilities may also use the application.
“We’re very proud that we’re ranked 5th in the nation for reaching Vermonters in need. But we know there is still more we can do to help Vermonters get the benefits they need and are entitled to,” remarks Dave Yacovone, Commissioner of the Department for Children and Families. “Our goal with the simplified application is to make it easier for seniors to apply for 3SquaresVT and hopefully more will soon take part.”
“3SquaresVT is the best defense against hunger,” says Greg Marchildon state director of AARP Vermont, “If we can raise awareness about the program and its benefits while making the application process easier, we can really have an impact on hunger among Vermont ’s elders.”
Is there someone you know who could benefit from 3SquaresVT? It’s worth it to find out more. For information about 3SquaresVT, visit www.vermontfoodhelp.com. Seniors and their families may also call the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-642-5119.