Strengthening Families and Communities: FNS Outreach at Second Harvest

by | Oct 27, 2017 | #feedingchange, #feedinghealth | 0 comments

In Watauga County, a young couple is homeless, unemployed and raising a two month old infant. They were living in the woods prior to finding pace in a local shelter, and the mother nearly lost her life after a C-section and improper after-care. She has been hospitalized for nearly the entire two months her child has been alive.

In Caldwell County, an older woman worked her entire career in a manufacturing plant and is now in poor health. She sees seven doctors on a regular basis, and has to decide if she can go to her appointments, or buy medicine and food.

In Forsyth County, a CNA quits her position because she was not being paid for the complete number of hours she was working. Thankfully, she has been offered a new position. However, the training for the new position takes nearly three months– unpaid. She exhausted all of her savings during the job search… and needs help now.

These are the stories… and the people… that come to see Sonsera Kiger, Second Harvest Food Bank’s Federal Nutrition Services Outreach Coordinator, who travels throughout our 18-county service region answering questions and helping individuals apply for SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps).

Second Harvest supports our partner agencies in connecting potentially eligible individuals and families to FNS services by providing partner agencies with informational materials for distribution to families. We also provide on-site assistance to partner agencies interested in helping individuals and families with the FNS application process.

Why do we do this work? We do it because we believe that SNAP and other anti-hunger programs, are vital to ending hunger in America.

In 1939 President Roosevelt found “one-third of the nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished” and, as a result, first food-stamp program was created. Nearly 80 years later, the program– renamed SNAP– has helped to lift millions of families out of poverty and provided food for the dinner table through some of these families hardest times. We have learned a lot and come a long way since that original program, but still 1 in 6 Northwest North Carolinians struggle with hunger.

We know that SNAP continues to play a role in improving the health and well-being of our communities. The program is efficient and effective. While Second Harvest moves 37 tons of food everyday and works with over 470 on-the-ground partner agencies to distribute this food locally, the good work we do is only a fraction of what the federal anti-hunger programs accomplish.

SNAP is designed to help those who are unable to protect themselves against hunger due to disability or age, and those who are struggling between jobs or because their wages don’t cover their expenses. 64% of SNAP recipients are either children, the elderly or disabled. Two-thirds of the remaining recipients either work full-time, are caretakers of others, or are participating in a training program.

SNAP is available to only low-income Americans and is a modest investment. Those who qualify receive Electronic Benefit Transfer cards that are timely, targeted and temporary and can only be spent on food… nothing else. SNAP covers an approximate $1.40 per meal.

Many of the families coming to our partner programs such as community meals, food pantries, mobile markets and our Community Cupboards need additional help with food beyond what we can distribute. SNAP can be an impactful answer.

Learn more about SNAP and it’s benefit to North Carolina here.

GET INVOLVED! Help Second Harvest spread the word about how important SNAP is to North Carolina and our economy. Sign up for Advocacy Alerts here!

If you are a community organization and would like to schedule a time for our FNS Outreach Program to come to your location, contact us here.

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