While 80 percent of SNAP-eligible people received benefits in 2011, according to a Mathematica Policy Research study, only 39 percent of Americans over 60 participated in the program – with 5.2 million seniors missing out on nutrition assistance.
“Some are too proud about taking ‘handouts’ – that’s the mindset,” said Diane Gonzales, director of “Senior Stop,” a Child Center of New York program in Queens which helps seniors apply for SNAP – often in just 20 minutes. Jackie Kauff, a senior researcher at Mathematica, said seniors might feel that taking SNAP benefits robs others of assistance, especially young children.
Some seniors find the application process daunting. Although the government has simplified the SNAP application process, “[i]t’s very complicated,” said Kauff. “Lots of seniors find it burdensome.”
While the November 2013 SNAP cut reduced benefits amounts – one recipient in Queens, helped by the Senior Stop program, saw her benefits drop from $200 a month $189 – the SNAP Program remains a vital resource that too many seniors are not receiving.