Sojourner’s Truth Staff
City and agency leaders gathered on Wednesday at the J. Frank Troy Senior Center to emphasize the merits of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for the elderly residents of the Toledo area and to encourage these residents and their families to take advantage of a program that can provide invaluable nutritional and health benefits of the program.
“Too many elderly in this area are not participating,” said Billie Johnson, president and CEO of the Area Office on Aging as she opened the press conference. “Some are too ashamed to let their families know,” she added.
Bill Harris, chairman of the Area Office in Aging board of directors, said: “It is ironic that the United States of America, the breadbasket of the world, has a problem with food insecurity.”
SNAP is a federal program, the largest program working to fight hunger in the United States. Approximately 5.1 million older adult households use SNAP but more than half of those who qualify for SNAP are not enrolled in the program.
“SNAP is not new and we hope it will remain for a while,” said Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz as he opened his remarks. He explained that “the reason we are holding [this press conference] is that a high percentage of seniors in our community aren’t taking advantage of this program … we have to overcome a sense of shame that maybe older generations have … hunger and food insecurity is always heartbreaking.”
“We provide a large number of health care services to those who have trouble accessing such services,” said Doni Miller, CEO of Neighborhood Health Association as she emphasized the “importance of food on the quality of life.”
She also echoed other speakers about the difficulties older generations have overcoming their pride and asking for help. “A big part is getting folks who are uncomfortable with reaching out to seek help and getting to those who don’t know it’s available – the long-term ramifications are much too significant.”
SNAP is available to the most at-risk citizens, including elderly and disabled. Federal eligibility for the program is for those with gross incomes of up to 130 percent of the federal poverty line – a family of four, for example, can make no more than $2,633 a month to become eligible.
Lucas County residents can call the Area Office in Aging at 419-382-0524, ext 1137; 419-280-1283 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information