Improving food security: SNAP benefits and resources

July 29, 2022

Food and nutrition are essential to the overall health, well-being and wholeness of our patients and communities. As part of our ministry-wide commitment to fight back against hunger and improve food security within our vibrant communities, we are highlighting the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP, formerly referred to as Food Stamps. We think of SNAP as a health program because it helps free up cash for individuals and families so they can purchase other essential goods and services and have access to nutritious meals.

SNAP can be used to purchase groceries, snacks and seeds or plants that will produce food. The federal program is administered by state agencies and their county offices who process applications and issue the benefits to participants on an electronic benefit card. These cards look and work just like a debit card - ensuring participants’ dignity at checkout.

SNAP benefits are available for households who meet or are below 130% of the poverty level and is most often used by hard-working families, children, seniors, veterans and those who are disabled. SNAP serves more than 450,000 individuals (about 8% of the population, but only about 79% of those eligible) in Colorado each month and more than 201,000 individuals (about 7% of the population, but only 69% of those eligible) receive SNAP in Kansas. Enrollment rates are especially low among our eligible aging community members (33% in Kansas and 40% in Colorado). For comparison, neighboring New Mexico has a 98% enrollment rate among their eligible population.

Enrolling in SNAP has other benefits, too. Children who receive SNAP benefits are automatically certified for free school meals and the purchasing power of SNAP is amplified for fresh fruits and vegetables through programs like Double Up Food Bucks.

We are working in partnership with community coalitions and organizations such as Hunger Free Colorado to help close this gap between SNAP eligibility and enrollment in both Colorado (bottom 20 in the nation) and Kansas (bottom 5 in the nation). Through our involvement with other local coalitions, we are working to bring awareness to available programs and ending stigmatization associated with food insecurity and hunger.