The Food Bank’s SNAP Team provides confidential and caring support

Beth Ziemba, SNAP program manager

Beth Ziemba, SNAP program manager at The Food Bank, provides an overview of how our organization helps guide clients through the application process for this federal nutrition assistance program. Currently there are 147,871 food insecure individuals in western Massachusetts who receive SNAP benefits.

SNAP is up for reauthorization by Congress this year through the Farm Bill. The House version would cut the program significantly and make it harder for people to qualify for assistance. The Senate version of the bill is much more moderate. Both are set to be voted on in June 2018. Learn more.

Q:  How do federal nutrition assistance benefits help food insecure households in western Massachusetts?

Beth Ziemba: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formally known as Food Stamps is a program that assists low-income individuals and families stretch their food budgets each month.

Q:  Who is eligible for SNAP?

BZ: Many low-income households struggling to put food on the table are eligible, including low-wage working families, low-income older adults and persons with disabilities. There are eligibility rules. Income limits and the total amount of SNAP awarded depends on income and expenses.

Q: How does The Food Bank’s SNAP team help food insecure households?

BZ: SNAP Coordinators and volunteers help people apply for SNAP. We prescreen clients to determine if they are eligible and then submit an application for them. We provide SNAP application assistance at a variety of sites including senior centers, colleges, jails, after incarceration support agencies, food pantries, and veteran agencies. We can also help people apply over the phone.

Q: Who can attend a SNAP Outreach & Enrollment event. What should they bring with them to the meeting, and are the meetings confidential?

BZ: Many of our SNAP outreach events are open to the public with no appointments necessary (see where we are on a monthly basis by going to check the event schedule). At these events, SNAP Coordinators are available for confidential consultations to determine SNAP eligibility and help people apply.

Q: What is an example of a typical situation you have encountered which leads to someone applying for SNAP benefits?

BZ: One of the case scenarios we have been seeing is grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. Many times, they have prepared well for retirement for a household of one or two, but not for a household of four or five. SNAP can really assist them during this time of unexpected financial difficulty.

Q:  How can someone begin the process of determining eligibility and applying for SNAP benefits?

BZ: To find out more and apply for SNAP by phone, call The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts at 413-247-9738 and ask to speak with a SNAP Coordinator.