The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the most effective and efficient ways to end hunger in our state. This federal program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, currently serves more than 405,000 Connecticut residents, with thousands more applying each month. This necessary benefit gives many individuals the chance to provide nutritious and healthy meals to their families, yet the program is still highly underutilized.
Currently, over 30% of SNAP eligible households in Connecticut are not receiving benefits. If we can increase participation by just 5% the additional amount of food purchased in Connecticut would be more than what Foodshare can distribute in a whole year!
Not to mention, SNAP is also a great way to boost the local economy! Research shows that every $1.00 spent in SNAP benefits results in $1.73 worth of local economic activity. SNAP is federal money being spent in our own community.
Foodshare began a SNAP Outreach program in 2008 with a goal of increasing participation rates by helping those who qualify apply for the benefit. It all began with one full-time staff person and a small group of volunteers. Since that time, the program has grown to include 20 trained volunteers completing 40-70 hours of SNAP outreach every month in the form of pre-screening and application assistance.
Last year, Foodshare volunteers connected 235 households with SNAP, and provided phone referral services to hundreds more. Over the next decade we hope to partner with other Statewide organizations to increase participation in Connecticut from 75% to 95%. A number that is already achieved by many other States.