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Combating Food Insecurity: Tools For Helping Older Adults Access SNAP AARP Foundation Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
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Combating Food Insecurity: Tools For Helping Older Adults Access SNAP AARP Foundation Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)

Dec 31, 2015

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Combating Food Insecurity: Tools For Helping Older Adults Access SNAP

AARP FoundationFood Research and Action Center (FRAC)

Hunger Among Older AmericansIn 2013, 8.7% of all households with a person aged 65 or older were food insecureIn 2012, more than 4 million Americans 60 and older participated in SNAP, which is 9% of the total number of Americans using SNAP

Most eligible Americans are not enrolled in SNAP. In 2011, 3 out of 5 eligible adults 60+ missed out on SNAP, and significant gaps in participation exist in all statesIn 2009, researchers estimated that 4.9 million Americans aged 50-59 were food insecure

food insecure meaning that their access to adequate food was limited by lack of money and other resources2*Source: AARP State of the 50+ in New York City Report, page 47, July 2014. The full report can be found at: http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/general/2014/State-of-the-50-Plus-in-NYC-2014-AARP-res-gen.pdf

*Source: AARP State of the 50+ in New York City Report, page 47, July 2014. The full report can be found at: http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/general/2014/State-of-the-50-Plus-in-NYC-2014-AARP-res-gen.pdfAARP Foundation and FRAC Toolkit

http://pdf.aarpfoundation.org/i/397003-snap-toolkitBarriers to SNAP for SeniorsDo not know they may be eligible Do not know how to applyFeel stigma related to receiving government assistanceBelieve their benefits would deprive other needy people of aidDo not have transportationDo not know how to use technology associated with online applicationsBelieve the application and enrollment process is too intrusive, complicated, or time-consumingMyth 1: If I apply for SNAP, Ill only get $16 per month.

Reality: The average SNAP household with a senior in New York receives $170.42 per month. SNAP households with more than one senior receive an average benefit of $191.60 per month.Myths about SNAP**Source: AARP and AARP Foundations 2012 Summit Report: Hunger Among Older New Yorkers Breaking Down the Barriers; the full report can be found at: http://states.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/AARP-NY-2013-Hunger-White-Paper.pdfMyth 2: By participating in SNAP, older adults will be taking away benefits from others who need them more, such as working families and children.

Reality: SNAP benefits are available to all eligible individuals who qualify. SNAP benefits are funded with federal money, and no participant is taking anything away from another person in need. In fact, every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates $9 in total community spending.Myths about SNAP**Source: AARP and AARP Foundations 2012 Summit Report: Hunger Among Older New Yorkers Breaking Down the Barriers; the full report can be found at: http://states.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/AARP-NY-2013-Hunger-White-Paper.pdfMyth 3: Older adults are required to have a face-to-face interview before SNAP benefits can be issued.

Reality: Older adults may have a face-to-face interview if that is their preference; however, in New York State, it is common for the interview to be conducted by telephone or by a scheduled home visit.Myths about SNAP**Source: AARP and AARP Foundations 2012 Summit Report: Hunger Among Older New Yorkers Breaking Down the Barriers; the full report can be found at: http://states.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/AARP-NY-2013-Hunger-White-Paper.pdfSNAP Outreach Planning1. Identify the target audience:

Be clear about target geographic areas and population demographics

Focus efforts on specific zip codes/towns/cities

Ask state agency to conduct a data match between SNAP and other programs SNAP Outreach Planning2. Choose strategies and tactics:

By revealing those in the community that need help accessing SNAP, one can identify the strategies that can be used to increase access to SNAP benefits

3 core strategies: EducationPrescreeningApplication assistance

SNAP Outreach Planning3. Plan to measure success:

Set specific, realistic objectives around targeted number of people and what channels to utilize in order to achieve desired outcomeEducationSNAP Messaging:

Conduct audience research using focus groups, testing messages, and materials used by local SNAP agenciesUse simple languageWrite at a 5th or 6th grade level to accommodate different literacy levelsUse images, infographics, and illustrations that convey actions Use translated materials (enlist help from local CBOs and universities for translations) that are available from SNAP state or local agencies, and the USDAConsider additional special subpopulations for personalized messages (e.g., Veterans, grandparents, older people of color)EducationDisseminating Messages:

Trusted messengers individuals and organizations that have credibility with older adults (e.g., elected officials, health care providers, faith-based community organizations)

Strategic partnershipsretailers, grocers, pharmacies, farmers markets, senior centers, senior housing, cross-program collaboration PrescreeningPredicting an applicants eligibility and benefit level

Methods include both paper and online based assessments

Can take place in any setting where outreach workers interact with older Americans (e.g., senior centers, housing community rooms, food pantries)Application AssistancePeer-to-Peer Model engages older adult volunteers who are sensitive to applicants needs and can relate to the aging experience

Peers may have personal experience with public programs like SNAP, Medicare, and Social Security

Can more personally communicate and help address barriers for potential applicantsApplication AssistanceOutreach workers help clients to:

Understand and fill out the application

Submit or assist with sending applications and other necessary documents to SNAP offices

Claim excess medical deductions, which are the most underutilized deductions

**Outreach methods may be limited by funder or grant requirements, so strategize accordingly

Application AssistanceAuthorized Representatives can be helpful for those needing assistance navigating the application process or shopping with their SNAP benefits

Important for individuals who are confused with the application process or incapacitated and cannot travel

Authorized representatives can help in case of illness or injury down the roadEvaluating SuccessKey metrics to consider within outreach effort, implementation, and final reporting:

Awareness number and type of all contacts (mailings, phone calls, and events)

Screenings number of clients screened

Applications number of applications submitted to SNAP offices

Dispositions number of follow-up calls to clientsEvaluating SuccessFollow-up:

Monitor contact with seniors, and help increase their benefit amounts by reporting changes or other deductionsConduct interview with partners that have helped with outreachProduce anecdotal information about positive impacts of SNAP enrollment for clientsInterview personnel at local supermarkets and farmers markets about economic impacts of the project-assisted SNAP enrollmentsEvaluating SuccessSystemic Issues:

SNAP outreach workers should track problems that clients encounter (barriers to access) and report information to a central data bankUse special worksheet/spreadsheetSort problems by date, issue, and SNAP office locationCase processing backlogs, delayed determinations, busy phone lines, lost docs, etc.You may spot trends that warrant SNAP agency systemic responseEvaluating SuccessBenefit Dollars Leveraged:Estimate the dollar benefit amount that resulted from SNAP enrollmentsUse the average monthly SNAP benefit amount for seniors in your state and multiply the value by the number of program enrollments per month

Multiply this value by 12 to get an annual estimateSeniors are usually certified for 24 months, so it can be appropriate to provide a multi-year estimate for the amount of benefit dollars generated by the projects work with seniors

Evaluating SuccessEconomic Activity Generated:

SNAP benefits bring in federal dollars and have ripple effects for the entire food chainIncluding an effect on farmers, food processors, truckers, supermarkets, and other retail food outletsEstimate economic impact: multiply the estimated dollar benefit amount by 1.79 (multiplier factor resulting from USDAs analysis of the economic impact of SNAP spending)

Evaluating SuccessSharing Lessons Learned:

SNAP outreach project partners should develop a relationship with their local SNAP officesSNAP offices will welcome your feedback and insights on systemic problemsOutreach projects provide SNAP offices with trained outreach partners that streamline the application process for SNAP case workers by submitting completed applications with accurate information

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