Press-Republican

February 26, 2013

Help available to apply for food stamps

By DARINA NAIDU
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Wednesday, a Nutrition Outreach and Education Program coordinator will assist the public with information about the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The Nutrition Program, funded by Hunger Solutions N.Y., is under the umbrella of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York in Plattsburgh. 

Since last September, the Legal Aid Society has offered free legal services and civil legal aid to people with low income or in need of assistance, including victims of domestic violence, children, the elderly, those who are homeless or have disabilities.

The society also helps with the application of SNAP (food stamps) in Clinton County.

Mandy Beaudin, the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program coordinator for Clinton County, will set up from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Champlain Centre mall between Target and the food court, sharing information about SNAP.

FREE, CONFIDENTIAL

Not only does SNAP help feed the community, but it also helps invest in the economic activity in New York, Beaudin said.

“For every dollar spent on food stamps, it is $1.84 in economic activity. We assist about 25,000 households every year, and that is $84 million into New York state every year,” she said.

Each time the benefits are used, according to a program brochure, it helps the employees and the store where the purchase is made, the truck driver who delivered the food, the warehouses that stored it, the plant that processed it, and the farmer who produced the food.

Another fact is that each $1 billion increase in SNAP benefits is expected to result in creating about 18,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Beaudin assists people with the application process for SNAP by helping them gather and submit the documents they need, as well as providing a free and confidential pre-screening for eligibility.

“We can only do pre-screening. The (Clinton County Social Services Department) is the one who does the full screening,” Beaudin said.

“I take referrals from local agencies, and I do a quick budget. Usually it’s pretty close, and I can let them know if they could be eligible.”

At Champlain Centre, Beaudin has to follow some restrictions.

“I can’t leave my table or speak to anybody who doesn’t come to me,” she said.

LOTS OF PURPLE PENS

Beaudin also set up a table at the mall last Friday. 

“It went very well, and I met with a number of people.”

They were mostly families, with only about two single households, she said.

The coordinator added she determined about half of the families were likely eligible for SNAP, and they were not aware of it.

“I also gave away a lot of free purple pens and measuring cups.”

Beaudin said she is excited for her second event and is hoping to talk to more people.

One in five New Yorkers “is struggling to find food these days,” according to Hunger Solutions Advocacy and Communications Specialist Alisa Costa.

The process for getting SNAP benefits “needs a lot of documentation, so it’s great to have (Beaudin) help them and the community.

“It’s an effective way to reach people.”

GETTING THE WORD OUT

Friday’s table at the mall was the first event of that kind the society has held on SNAP.

“I have been to many congregate meal sites for seniors, and I have been trying to get the word out there and talk to as many people as possible,” she said.

The Legal Aid Society works with any person, student, family and anyone eligible for the Nutrition Outreach and Education Program.

Beaudin also gives away free promotional items at her table, including measuring spoons, jar openers, letter openers, spatulas, measuring cups, lunch cooler bags and pizza cutters with bottle openers. 

SNAP benefits are only a step away, Beaudin said, and she will be doing her best to help and assist those who need them.

Learn more, including where to find Hunger Solutions services, at food

helpny.org.