Good nutrition is as easy as SNAP

When Gloria walked into Catholic Charities of Rochester, N.Y., workers saw first-hand the life-changing difference even a few dollars can make in a person’s life.

Gloria is 86 and lives alone near the small village of Nichols, N.Y., in Tioga County, which is as rural as Appalachia. There are no nearby cities, hospitals, colleges or public bus service. There are no large grocery stores that Gloria can reach easily. For food, she has two options: shop at a convenience store close to home or use the Catholic Charities food pantry in Nichols.

The pantry is where Gloria learned about a third option: SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). Aware that Gloria made frequent visits, a staff member at the pantry introduced her to Patty Porter, whose job – funded by Catholic Charities USA – is to help people in need apply for and receive SNAP benefits.

Porter introduced Gloria to SNAP and helped her through the application process, which involved identifying and collecting all the documents that verified Gloria’s eligibility. Through the process, Gloria learned that SNAP benefits would help her afford nutritious foods. She also discovered that she qualified for a government-funded cell phone, which meant a saving of $60 per month for her.

A few weeks after her application had been submitted, Gloria walked into Catholic Charities with her new SNAP EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card, which she had received in the mail. She wanted to know how to set up the personal identification number and how much in benefits she would receive. When Porter told her that the benefits totaled $60 per month, Gloria started to cry. Porter, not knowing what the tears meant, asked if she was okay. Gloria smiled through her tears of joy and said she could not believe her good fortune.