On the Hotline we help different types of clients. Some of the type of clients we help are seniors, disabled, and Spanish speakers. Each with their own set of circumstances.
Seniors are different in the sense that they don’t trust technology or the government. With seniors we spend a little extra time because they require more attention. Seniors usually have worked their whole lives and never needed public assistance before so seniors are very unfamiliar about how getting SNAP benefits works. Since senior income requirements can be higher than the rest of the population we do additional screening to make sure that they can meet both the gross and net income requirement. We want to make sure that the client qualifies before having them go through the process. After we have concluded that they qualify for SNAP we give seniors the option to help them with the online application over the phone or to mail them a paper application. If we mail them a paper application we schedule a call back to go over the application with them over the phone. We have recently also added the option of scheduling appointments with seniors to meet somewhere with Sharon or Erin to submit the application in person. It is not unheard of for us to make multiple calls to seniors to make sure that everything is going along. Sometimes they need more convincing because they start having second thoughts when they see the length of the application or they feel the questions are too personal. Seniors are usually really thankful for the time and patience we had with their particular situation.
Disabled clients are similar to seniors because their income can also be higher and still qualify for SNAP. So we do an in-depth eligibility screening with them as well if their income is higher than 130% of gross income limit. But it is more common for income to be higher for seniors than it is for disabled clients. With disabled clients we also offer to mail them an application with additional postage so that they don’t have to go to SNAP office to turn in application and they can mail out their paper application along with their verification documents. Disabled clients do have some additional issues in getting food assistance that others don’t. Disabled clients have difficulty accessing food assistance provided by the community because a lot of the times their disability prevents them from being able to leave their homes but because they aren’t senior they aren’t able to access Meals on Wheels. Being able to get food from food pantries thus becomes very difficult for them. When this happens we tell disabled clients that we can give them the phone numbers of the food pantries that are close by to see if they are willing to make an exception for them.
Spanish speaking clients also require more attention than some of our other clients. Spanish speaking clients are very weary of applying for SNAP. Spanish speakers are usually afraid of the government and have usually heard of a lot of rumors about what happens to Spanish speakers when they apply for SNAP. They are afraid that they will be deported, tagged, or that their children will have to pay back the money that is allotted to them. So we spend a good deal of time convincing them that these things are not true. Spanish speakers are also intimidated by the SNAP application, even when the application is in Spanish. The SNAP application uses very technical language that clients are not used to, so they have difficulty understanding what is being asked of them. We offer these clients to go through SNAP application with them. Spanish speakers also go through some problems when it comes to their interview. There seems to be a language barrier because the client ends up not understanding why they didn’t qualify or what they are missing. We will probe to figure out what the client has turned in to try and figure out what they could be missing. We also schedule follow-ups with them to make sure that their issues get resolved. Spanish speakers also experience barriers when they go to food pantries because of the language barrier.
We help other types of clients as well but these are the ones that require more attention. But in reality if we notice that any client needs for us to go through the whole application with them or if it seems like they are going to need more guidance we will set up follow-ups with them to ensure that they get the services they qualify for.
To contact our hotline for assistance, call 855-855-4626.
Enika Stasko, Hotline Lead Navigator, Hunger Free Colorado.