The Food Bank is trying to increase participation in the food stamp program, in response to last month’s Gallup poll that put Delaware on par with Mississippi and Alabama for the percentage of residents who struggle to afford food.
The Gallup survey raised eyebrows among staff at the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services who were quoted in a story broadcast last week on WHYY’s First as “disturbing”. The study found more than 22 percent of Delawareans struggled to afford food at some time in the last twelve months.
In response to that survey, the Food Bank of Delaware is launching an effort to encourage households who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to take advantage of SNAP.
Food Bank of Delaware president and CEO Patricia Beebe says there are 10,000 seniors in Delaware who are eligible for the benefits, but don’t take part in the program. “It’s important for Delawareans who are in need of emergency food assistance to utilize the benefits that are available.”
Right now, 77 percent of eligible resident take advantage of SNAP. To increase that percentage, the Food Bank is working to raise awareness among the working poor, migrant workers, and senior citizens in Kent and Sussex Counties. FBD’s Brenda Palomo is available to help families learn about what help is available and walk them through the process.
The state is also working to raise awareness and participation in the program. Director of the state Division of Social Services Elaine Archangelo says they’re working with groups like the Food Bank to spread the word. “We have really strong partnerships with the Food Bank and recently a new partnership with the area aging network to do outreach to people who could potentially be eligible.” She says, “Traditionally people who are older, they avoid coming in to apply.”