12.6% of Iowans are food insecure, meaning they do not have the ability to acquire nutritionally adequate and safe foods in socially acceptable ways. This translates to 389,250 Iowans being forced to make tough decisions about providing food for their families or paying their rent or mortgage, paying for transportation, or paying for medical bills. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is available to assist these individuals, but due to lack of access and knowledge of the program many individuals do not apply to receive benefits. 75% of the individuals accessing emergency food through food pantries, community kitchens and shelters are eligible for SNAP, but 25% of them have never applied (Hunger in America 2010, Feeding America).
IFBA Food Assistance Hotline
Iowans can call the Iowa Food Bank Association Hotline to speak with someone who can help them with the Food Assistance application. The Hotline – 855-944-FOOD (3663) – is open 8:00 – 4:30 Monday through Friday with additional assistance provided after hours on high volume call days. The Hotline is a part of the Iowa Food Bank Association Outreach program and is made possible through grant funding from the Walmart Foundation and Feeding America, Telligen Community Initiative, and the United States Department of Agriculture through an ongoing partnership with the Iowa Department of Human Services
SNAP Mobile Access Points
IFBA is in an optimal position to reach the 25% of individuals who have not applied for SNAP benefits with measures that will counter the reasons individuals may have not applied. Collaboratively, the association members provide grocery products to over 1,000 agencies throughout the state that are serving hungry individuals. IFBA will utilize these agencies to reach individuals who are eligible for SNAP, but have not applied, by creating Mobile Access Points. Mobile Access Points will be wireless enabled netbooks or laptops, and portable scanners traveling with an employee of IFBA to targeted emergency feeding sites. The sites will be chosen based on community need, and the lack of a full time Department of Human Service (DHS) office in the county. While at the site, the trained IFBA SNAP Outreach Worker will assist individuals in accessing the DHS Online Application for State of Iowa Services (OASIS) website. OASIS is an online joint application for SNAP and other funding sources for needy individuals.
Mobile Pantries will be used to create Mobile Access Points in regions that do not have adequate access to food assistance programs such as food pantries. This program allows food banks to create access points while serving communities that lack adequate access to other forms of food assistance. A food bank partners with a community organization in the underserved area to find space and volunteers to implement a two to three hour mobile pantry. The food bank transports an amount of food based on the estimated number of participants to the designated location. Mobile pantries will be utilized as SNAP Mobile Access Points.
Through this program the IFBA projects that 2,400 households will begin receiving SNAP benefits creating an estimated $7 million of economic benefit for the state of Iowa. To view the return on investment calculations click here.
Do you think you are eligible for assistance?
Many Iowans may be elligible but have not applied. To apply, call one of our SNAP Outreach Coordinators listed above or click here.
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