After receiving an email from the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and being a newbie to the term “SNAP Gap”, I was prompted to do a Google search to learn more! And, as I suspected it had nothing to do with snaps on comfy clothing.
As a gerontologist and a social worker, I am always interested in why seniors don’t access services.
I was particularly intrigued with why the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is not being accessed more by older adults, after I learned about the “senior SNAP gap.”
Did you know that 60% of eligible older adults are not enrolled in SNAP?
But my research revealed that the SNAP Gap is not specific only to older adults. The SNAP Gap can mean different things to different people.
One of the most prominent issues that the SNAP Gap addresses, regardless of age, is that SNAP benefits are not enough and that many people with SNAP assistance still skip meals or have to go to food pantries to try and meet their food needs.
So, this makes me wonder, what do people do, particularly seniors, to meet their nutritional needs if they are eligible for SNAP benefits but don’t apply?
The disconnect between such a vital food sustenance program and an older adult person applying may have to do both with how the information is communicated to the older adult and a misunderstanding that the program is not for them.
The NCOA finds that many seniors—and the people who serve them—still believe that they will qualify for only the minimum SNAP benefit amount, which is $16 a month. This inaccurate assumption translates into millions of older adults, who face food insecurities, too often making a choice between paying for food or medicine.
Hence, they are at risk for exacerbating health problems and jeopardizing their independence.
What can you do? Misunderstandings about seniors and SNAP benefits can be answered by sharing NCOA’s fact sheet that speaks to how the program helps older adults.
Our Good Life Coordinators here at H.O.M.E.’s Good Life Senior Residences, do benefit check-ups for senior residents as we want to make sure they are reaching their full potential when it comes to accessing resources like SNAP.