The following guest column originally appeared in The Coloradoan on April 6, 2017.
As a father and a physician, I recognize that few things are more important than the ability to put nutritious food on the table. The link between health and hunger is undeniable and when families have access to healthy food, babies develop, children excel in school, the risk of chronic disease is lessened and older adults remain stable and independent in their homes.
But for those struggling to make ends meet, accessing healthy food is often difficult. While a new report shows that Colorado is making positive strides when it comes to delivering nutritional assistance to families in need, in Larimer County, it is clear that we need to accelerate our progress.
One way to address the need for food assistance is through food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. This program provides eligible families with modest monthly funds to help them purchase food using a pre-loaded electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card.
These families are hardworking community members trying to make ends meet. They are our neighbors and doing their part, but too few of them are aware they qualify or know how and where to sign up.
According to Hunger Free Colorado, nearly 60 percent of low-income Coloradans who qualify for food stamps are enrolled in the program, but in Larimer County, even fewer of eligible families are taking advantage of these important services — leaving them without needed nutrition.
We can all do our part to be among the 44 counties in Colorado who have improved access to food stamps. Talk to people you know or work with about SNAP and refer them to the Hunger Free Hotline at 855-855-4626. And let your local, state and federal policymakers know that increased and continued funding for food insecurity is a community priority.
David Marchant, M.D., clinical medical director, Fort Collins Family Medicine Residency Program, Poudre Valley Hospital