Question: I am a retired widower in my 70s and have noticed the price of food going up every time I shop. I’m worried that my grocery expenses are outpacing my monthly income, which is mostly a Social Security check plus interest from a small savings account. Is there any way I can get some help with food expenses?
Answer: AgeSpan has several programs to assist older adults and others to obtain free, nutritious food, including Meals on Wheels, the Brown Bag Program, and our new Mobile Market Program. You may also be eligible for financial help with buying groceries through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), once referred to as food stamps. SNAP is a federal nutrition program administered by the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).
SNAP benefits include:
- An Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, resembling a debit card, which is credited with monthly funds to buy food
- An additional $40, $60, or $80 of credit per month returned to your EBT card when you use SNAP to buy local fruits and vegetables through the Healthy Incentives Program
- SNAP Path to Work, a program offering free education and training opportunities. Participating families may be able to obtain no-cost childcare while they are taking classes.
- Free nutrition education classes and resources
- Connections to other kinds of help, including utility discounts, free school meals and childcare through the Head Start program
- Internet discounts through the Affordable Connectivity Program
- Discounted admissions to certain Massachusetts museums and cultural institutions
SNAP eligibility is based on the number of people in your household, your total household income, and certain expenses.
When determining eligibility for the program, DTA counts income from most sources, including wages, cash assistance, Social Security, unemployment insurance, and child support.
You can check your SNAP eligibility in just 30 seconds by using this confidential online screener at https://dtaconnect.eohhs.mass.gov/screening or by visiting https://www.mass.gov/how-to/apply-for-snap-benefits-food-stamps
If you are not a U.S. citizen or an eligible immigrant, you can still safely apply and receive SNAP for any family member who is eligible for the program, such as a child who is a U.S. citizen.
SNAP applications are available in many languages. In addition, DTA has interpreters fluent in over 100 languages to help applicants in person or over the phone. You can also ask a friend, family member, or community partner to help you apply for SNAP.
Please don’t hesitate to check the state’s online information about SNAP.
In addition, for more information, call AgeSpan at 800-892-0890.