It’s estimated that virtually everyone who gets food at one of our partner pantries is eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) based on their income, but only half are actually enrolled in the program.
This was one of the findings from a study conducted last year by The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) Health and Research Team entitled “Measuring Hunger at Food Pantries.”
This potential underutilization of SNAP could have a far-reaching effect on our hunger-relief efforts. For every meal provided by food banks and the emergency food system throughout the U.S., SNAP provides nine meals.
“If we hope to help more of our clients access SNAP, understanding the number who are not in the program is the first step,” said Christa Mayfield, GBFB manager of federal food programs. “It’s an area we see as an opportunity for growth.”
Christa leads the GBFB SNAP food program, a two-person team that this year helped over 500 people fill out SNAP applications—the equivalent of nearly 400,000 meals—nearly double our total from just two years ago.
As a result of the study, some of our partner pantries have taken a proactive approach to SNAP signup. That includes surveying their visitors regarding SNAP participation, dedicating more resources to SNAP outreach, and coordinating closer with GBFB on our own SNAP assistance.