Seventy-six-year-old Ann lives on a fixed income in a Newburyport subsidized housing complex. Laid low by a long convalescence, Ann found herself unable to afford the healthy food necessary for her to recover and stay strong.
With help from The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), Ann applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps. Today, she has enough nutritious food to eat each month, and she can use more of her limited resources for other living costs, such as heating bills and health care.
“I worked all my life in many different jobs, but eventually settled on teaching art. I believe everyone is innately creative, and I love my work. I even had my own after-school art studio for a number of years, but found it increasingly difficult to earn a sustainable living. But I was lucky to find a home in the housing authority, and I have some social security.
“A year and a half ago, I had major surgery with complications, which put me into a rehabilitation facility. So I had less money for food, and it was harder and harder to make ends meet. I needed help, but I was afraid of being judged. Besides, I never thought I’d qualify for food stamps. Finally, I reached out to my local Council on Aging, and they connected me with The Greater Boston Food Bank’s SNAP coordinator. I can’t tell you how different the experience was from what I’d feared. I thought it would feel punitive and judgmental. Instead, I felt completely understood and encouraged. The coordinator was a godsend. She helped me with the complicated paperwork to apply for SNAP benefits. But it wasn’t just what she did, it was how she did it—efficiently, but with kindness.
“Now, SNAP is extending my food budget so that I can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, which are expensive, and plan for healthier meals. I feel a helping hand has been held out to me, and I’m very grateful.”
GBFB’s programs for seniors include monthly Brown Bag grocery distributions at 15 partner sites. We also administer the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrition program for low-income seniors, as well as provide information and support to help eligible seniors access SNAP benefits.