The Vermont Foodbank is strengthening its 3SquaresVT Outreach service. With our newest addition to the outreach team, Shane Collins, we continue our efforts of creating easier access for working families, individuals, and seniors.
A federally funded program, 3SquaresVT, formerly known as the Food Stamp program and nationally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is vital to the well-being of thousands of Vermonters who experience some form of food insecurity.
The Vermont Foodbank started our 3quaresVT Outreach program in 2013 by providing one-on-on application assistance to potentially eligible clients. Two common reasons why people do not apply are:
- they don’t realize that they qualify, and
- that the application process can be confusing and intimidating.
We rely on food shelves and other community partners to support our efforts. Our partners help us to distribute materials, give us space to meet clients, and refer people to us for one-on-one assistance. Without their help, we would not be able to reach as many people as we do.
Although an estimated 166,000 Vermonters live below the 185% federal poverty level, and are likely eligible to receive SNAP benefits, only 87,794 are participating in the program. That means potentially 78,000 people who might need a little extra help and are likely eligible for assistance are not getting it. That is why the Vermont Foodbank started our 3SquaresVT Outreach Program.
Making sure people in your community who are eligible for 3SquaresVT receive it, helps the entire community. Healthier community members mean less wage loss from missed days at work and less public money used on healthcare. It means children will have better success in school and seniors will not have to choose between food and fuel.
Also, according to the USDA, every $5.00 of SNAP benefits generates $9.00 of economic activity which translates into more jobs and better. And in Vermont, for each dollar in increases spent on 3SquaresVT, there is a $1.84 increase in economic activity for the state’s local economy.
It is also growing harder to deny that there is a link between food insecurity, obesity, and other health related problems. In 2013, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released a study showing this exact correlation between health and nutrition outcomes, citing that, “in general, poor dietary intake has been linked to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases and conditions (1).”
While Vermont has lower adult obesity rates than much of the nation, it is still a reality that affects communities here. This is why there is a necessity for continuing to have programs, like school lunch, summer feeding programs and 3SquaresVT, available to low-income families and individuals, allowing people the opportunity to meet their most basic needs.
We challenge you to take action, by getting involved with your community and neighbors.
- If you are or know someone who would benefit from 3SquaresVT, encourage them to apply.
- Spread the word that the Vermont Foodbank provides one-on-one assistance and even makes house calls if needed.
- Send us referrals with which to follow up.
- Distribute materials to clients and post information.
Call the Vermont Foodbank outreach staff and ask if you can sponsor a staff member to come to your next event to educate friends, neighbors, or colleagues on the positive effects of 3SquaresVT. We can be reached toll-free at 855-855-8161 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage you to view this video to learn more about the 3SquaresVT/SNAP program:
(1) Grafton-Hartline, Heather (2013, January). Food Research and Action Center. SNAP and Public Health: The Role of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Improving the Health and Well-Being of Americans. Received June 17, 2015 from the World Wide Web: http://frac.org/pdf/snap_and_public_health_2013.pdf