Key Takeaways

COVID-19 has impacted millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, older adults are one of the groups that’s been hit the hardest. Besides being at higher risk for contracting the virus, the number of older adults experiencing food insecurity has also increased since the beginning of the pandemic. A few of the factors that contributed to this increase include, their inability to leave home, loss of income, and lack of assistance with grocery shopping and transportation.

Since 2016, the Greater Chicago Food Depository—Chicago’s food bank—has received funding through NCOA’s Senior SNAP Enrollment Initiative to help older adults apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The benefits hotline at the Food Depository has received thousands of calls from older adults seeking assistance with food and applying for SNAP throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The food bank has responded to the need by connecting callers to local food pantries and organizations that are delivering meals and providing SNAP application assistance and case application support to ensure eligible older adults are connected to SNAP.

As community providers and advocates, there are steps you can take to ensure all older adults have access to food and SNAP:

  1. Work with your state agency to increase awareness of SNAP among older adults, including where and how they can apply.
  2. Promote the SNAP online pilot and free or reduced-price delivery options.
  3. Request for your state to approve the use of electronic or telephonic signatures, which allows community providers to submit SNAP online applications over the phone.
  4. Advocate for a simplified SNAP application and renewal process for older adults to be made permanent and universally available.
  5. Advocate for the temporary 15% increase in SNAP benefits to be made permanent.

NCOA offers several resources that you can use and share to promote SNAP.

You can help ensure older adults have access to nutritious food and get connected to the benefits they are eligible for in your community.