The word “food assistance” has many meanings.
Food assistance can mean having a hot meal at a soup kitchen; or, for those who are age 60 or older, a hot meal served at a Congregate Nutrition Site (CNS) or Senior Center; or, for those who are homebound, due to age or disability, a hot meal delivered by Meals on Wheels or a similar service.
Food assistance can also mean groceries from a food pantry to help you round out a meal or stock your cabinets and fridge. These pantries typically limit how often participants can pickup food.
And, food assistance can mean having FNS/SNAP benefits – extra grocery dollars – to shop at any store that accepts these benefits.
So why choose FNS/SNAP benefits? Here’s where SNAP benefits win out over the other food assistance choices:
>>> Benefits are on-going, long-term assistance rather than emergency or day-to-day assistance. This means you can plan meals in advance.
>>> Allow you to purchase and consume the foods that you prefer to eat, rather than what’s being served or what’s in stock.
>>> Give you the flexibility to shop at any store that accepts these benefits, rather than being limited to a nearby pantry.
>>> Assist you in meeting your other household expenses. By spending SNAP benefits on groceries, you can shift your budgeted grocery dollars to other uses.
>>> Allow agencies that provide emergency food services to focus their efforts on helping people without any other ways to obtain food. By using SNAP benefits you help yourself, and in turn help these agencies maintain their capacity to help others – especially during these tough economic times when need is so high, and agency funding and resources are so limited.
When you apply for FNS/SNAP benefits, your application will be processed within 30 days; or, if it’s an emergency, within 7 days. Do you know of any hot meal sites or food pantries that are also providing application assistance for SNAP benefits?
Thanks to Nikchick (Flickr) for the pantry photo.