Did you know that seniors can receive assistance from the state to buy food?

NC’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) is a federal food assistance program available to any low-income individuals and families. It’s based on income and other financial resources, household composition and citizenship status.

And now the state has made it even easier for certain seniors to receive assistance. Those 65 and older on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), with a few other qualifications, have been identified and invited to participate in SNAP.

SNAP is the Simplified Nutritional Assistance Program. Its application is shorter, with fewer program rules. Recipients are certified for a three-year period before needing to be renewed. Applications were mailed to eligible seniors; if you missed yours, contact your local Department of Social Services (DSS) for an application or apply online.

What is SNAP exactly?

With either FNS or SNAP, seniors can buy food and food-related items with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. Lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other food are available to seniors on SNAP.

All seniors need to do is fill out an application form; in some cases, they will also interview with a DSS worker. Once approved, they’ll automatically receive funds for food loaded onto their EBT card every month.

High Risk in NC

Why are we talking about this now? North Carolina has one of the highest rates of food insecurity for seniors, yet only 1 in 3 eligible seniors participates in FNS. In addition to rolling out SNAP, the state is also doing specific outreach efforts to target dual eligible seniors (eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid) who are not yet participating.

In its pilot project, the state has contacted over 50,000 dual eligibles and enrolled 2,967 to date. That’s a lot of seniors potentially missing out of the health benefits of good nutrition and help putting food on the table.

Visit the North Carolina FNS and SNAP website in North Carolina for more information. You can apply online, download an application, visit your county Department of Social Services, or call 1-866-719-0141 (the SNAP specific number is 1-855-486-9333).

* USDA also announced that D-SNAP, or disaster funds, were awarded to help those in Hurricane Florence affected areas replace lost food, and other flexibilities. Visit the NC D-SNAP page for more information.