As a NOEP Coordinator for St. Lawrence County, I participated in the Spring Bazaar held in April of 2013 at a local Senior Center in Canton, NY. During the day I spoke with 111 community members about SNAP and the benefits of the program.

I had the opportunity to speak with an 82-year-old woman who did not know what SNAP was. Over the course of ten minutes I talked with her about the program and explained how it could help stretch her food budget.

The woman was a bit hesitant to apply for the program because she feared that she would be taking benefits away from someone who needed them more than her. I assured her this was not the case, explained that SNAP was an entitlement program so all who qualify receive benefits, and told her that every dollar she spent with SNAP would help her community.

A few days later I visited her at her apartment in the same senior center in which the bazaar was held. We sat down at her kitchen table and filled out her electronic SNAP application together. She was so excited about how easy it was that she called her neighbor and sent me next door. From there I was able to do a quick prescreening for her neighbor, and then helped her to also fill out the electronic SNAP application. The women were so happy about how easy and quick the process was that they plan to spread the word to their other neighbors.

The woman I met during the bazaar will now be able to eat better and more consistently. She informed me that she had been eating soup and toast for most of her meals, due to the high cost of food. With SNAP benefits she hopes to be able to eat better, and hopes to be able to spoil her granddaughter a little bit more as well.

She had been eating soup and toast for most of her meals, due to the high cost of food. With SNAP benefits she hopes to be able to eat better.

CORTNEY SHATRAW, NOEP COORDINATOR, COMMUNITY ACTION PLANNING COUNCIL OF JEFFERSON COUNTY, INC.