Okay I stole my title from another VISTA but it does fit the subject matter of this blog post. One part of my job is to do SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program) Outreach. For those of you that might be asking "What the heck is SNAP?", it is the new name for Food Stamps. The point of SNAP Outreach is to increase SNAP participation so more people and especially children can have access to food. In Arkansas, the SNAP participation is 77%. This might seem but there has been increase in those seeking food pantries in the last couple of years and less than 30% of those going to food pantries are signed up for SNAP benefits. So we are starting at the food pantries with our SNAP Outreach and catch those who are in need of food.
A lot of people have their reasons for not wanting to sign up for SNAP benefits. They feel it's a "welfare program", they do not want to get stimatized when they go to the grocery store, and some have had bad experiences at the Department of Human Services offices. We want to educate these families that they are entitled to these benefits. No one is stimatized for filing for their social security benefits. Well, it is kind of the same concept when it comes to SNAP benefits. Your taxes support this program so you are bascially getting what you been paying for for years.
Through SNAP Outreach we hope to overcome these barriers and get more families signed up on SNAP. We want these families to understand that this program is to not to hinder them but to help them while they are going through those hard times. A lot of families on SNAP have jobs but unfortunately they cannot meet their financial obligations and buy groceries.
So far we have traveled to Fayetteville and Texarkana to do SNAP Outreach training. At both trainings, the attendants seemed very interested. We hope to have these groups starting SNAP Outreach in their agencies soon. We will be going to Mountain Home this week, which is like a three hour drive from Little Rock but its worth it if we are going to be helping families. If you have any questions about SNAP Outreach or SNAP benefits, please ask me. I would love to get the word out about this program.