One hundred and twenty dollars per month can be a life preserver for some Colorado seniors like Linda. The 63-year-old resident of Englewood, Colo., struggled to put healthy food on the table for months. A nutritious diet was essential for Linda’s health, but due to a fixed income and medical expenses, she could not afford the low-sugar foods needed to control her diabetes. That is until she applied for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a USDA-run food assistance program. Now, she can purchase needed foods like vegetables, fresh fruit and spices.
“It makes all the difference in the world if I can make it month-to-month without loans and with food I can eat,” said Linda. “I still have to be smart about purchasing food, but I can make it now.”
Linda received support from Hunger Free Colorado in the pre-screening and application process with her county’s Department of Human Services, providing similar information required for Social Security Retirement and Medicare. She completed her interview by phone and received a pre-loaded benefits card that looks and works just like a credit card in less than a week.
“I went and got groceries immediately,” shared Linda, remembering the day that she received SNAP/food stamp benefits. “I’m very thankful that the money is there, and I can get food that’s good for me.”
It is estimated that nearly one in nine Colorado seniors face uncertainty in knowing when or where they will get their next meal. A number of food assistance programs and community resources, such as SNAP and congregate meal sites, are specifically designed to meet the needs of older Coloradans—from dietary restrictions to limited transportation.
“After a lifetime of working and paying taxes, no older Coloradan should have to choose between buying needed medication or food,” said Kathy Underhill, executive director for Hunger Free Colorado, the state’s leading anti-hunger advocacy organization. “Programs like SNAP provide access to purchase healthy foods at the grocery store—the fuel needed for better, healthier lives. And help is just a phone call away.”
Hunger Free Colorado connects Coloradans with needed food and nutrition resources via their statewide Hunger Free Hotline. The toll-free, multilingual hotline is a free “one-stop” resource, and food assistance navigators provide helpful and thorough referrals based on each caller’s needs. They offer information and guidance on the options available in the caller’s area, such as meal sites, food pantries, Meals on Wheels, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program for Seniors (CSFP). They also can direct callers to local organizations that offer one-on-one support.
The statewide Hunger Free Hotline can be reached toll-free at (855) 855-4626 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. All calls are kept confidential, and messages left after-hours will be returned the next business day. For those with hearing loss, call Relay Colorado toll-free at 7-1-1 or (800) 659-2656.
“Eating nutritious food is necessary to maintain health and independence,” said Leighanna Konetski, nutritionist with the Colorado Department of Human Services’ State Unit on Aging. “This is especially true for older Coloradans, so we encourage you to consider utilizing food resources like SNAP, so you can stretch your food budget and purchase vegetables and other healthy foods.”
To learn more about food and nutrition resources in Colorado, visit HungerFreeColorado.org or call (855) 855-4626.
Want to help? Hunger Free Colorado also established a Senior Volunteer Force to connect more seniors to food resources in their communities. Volunteers offer one-on-one assistance, such as navigating nutrition assistance programs like SNAP/food stamps. To join the volunteer force or utilize its assistance, call (720) 328-1284 or send us an email.