ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma Department of Human Services is alive with accessible schools and nonprofits in hopes of closing the gap amid Oklahomans who authorize for and those who absolutely accept allowances from the Added Nutrition Assistance Affairs (SNAP).
According to the Regional Aliment Bank of Oklahoma, about 17 percent of Oklahomans — about 608,000 bodies — alive in poverty, and about one in four accouchement in the accompaniment ache aliment insecurity.
Despite the prevalence of ache in Oklahoma, about 20 percent of bodies acceptable for federally-funded SNAP benefits, aforetime accepted as aliment stamps, don’t booty advantage of the program.
“We accept 80 percent of bodies who are acceptable to accept SNAP are accepting SNAP,” said Debra Martin, communications administrator for Oklahoma Accompaniment Department of Human Services (OKDHS), the accompaniment bureau that administers SNAP.
Nationwide, about 17 percent of bodies acceptable for SNAP do not admission their benefits, and alone 42 percent of acceptable seniors are enrolled in the program, according to abstracts provided by the Regional Aliment Bank of Oklahoma.
Most SNAP recipients are children, elderly, or bodies with disabilities, including disabled veterans, Martin said. In budgetary year 2018, which concluded June 30, 825,583 Oklahomans accustomed SNAP benefits. Added than 34,000 of those were bodies earlier than 65.
That would leave about 206,000 Oklahomans acceptable for SNAP who aren’t accepting their benefits, according to the OKDHS figures.
Sara Gorman, Garfield Canton administrator for OKDHS, said it’s ambiguous how abounding acceptable SNAP recipients aren’t accessing their allowances in the county, decidedly amid the bounded abandoned population.
SNAP recipients charge be U.S. citizens or acknowledged association and charge accommodated assets guidelines set by the federal government, alignment in Oklahoma from an anniversary assets of $15,444 for a domiciliary of one actuality up to $53,157 per year for a domiciliary of eight people. The boilerplate account assets for SNAP recipients in Oklahoma aftermost year was $1,242.
The affairs additionally requires able adults after dependents, ages 18 to 50, to be active or participate in job training or apprenticeship at atomic 20 hours per week.
Gorman said SNAP recipients can be in the affairs for up to three months after affair the assignment requirement, and that accouterment resets every three years. Exemptions to the assignment claim additionally are accessible for a array of reasons, including recipients who are pregnant, adeptness biologic or booze treatment, affliction or ysis for an affliction that prevents them from working.
The boilerplate SNAP account is $4 per actuality per day, or $1.33 per meal, according to OKDHS figures.
Gorman said that bulk is meant to be supplemental, but it may accumulate some acceptable bodies — decidedly seniors — from applying for the benefit.
“A lot of them may alone get $15 in aliment stamps per ages and may not anticipate it’s account it,” Gorman said. “But, you don’t accept to use the allowances every ages and they add up, so if you let it body up it can absolutely advice with some of those staples you need.”
Gorman said the best way to actuate accommodation and account bulk is to administer for SNAP, which can be completed online at okdhslive.org. If an appellant is clumsy to admission the anatomy online, they can go to the bounded DHS appointment at 2405 Mercer Drive, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and administer in person.
Applicants charge accommodate affidavit of identity, their best contempo 30 canicule of assets ysis and a amusing aegis cardinal for every affiliate of the domiciliary applying for benefits.
In hopes of closing the gap amid Oklahomans acceptable for SNAP and those accepting benefits, OKDHS currently is aerodynamics two programs to adeptness added SNAP beneficiaries and accumulate the appliance process.
Gorman said the Garfield Canton DHS appointment aftermost October implemented “First Acquaintance Resolution,” an action to accommodate same-day advice commutual SNAP applications.
She said the fastest way for bodies to complete the action is to administer online, followed aural one business day by a aftereffect alarm from the bounded DHS appointment to dness any questions on the application.
Applicants additionally can booty photos of any bare abstracts and email them to DHS, rather than accepting to browse or hand-deliver paperwork.
Gorman said the canton DHS appointment still offers cardboard SNAP applications and applicant service, and DHS workers aim to complete the client’s appliance and dness any issues during that aboriginal applicant session.
“If addition walks in to the office, they see a artisan appropriate again and there so we don’t accept to try to acquaintance them after to align an interview,” Gorman said. “We’re aggravating to get the allowances into the easily of the audience sooner, if possible.”
First Acquaintance Resolution still is a pilot program, but Gorman said OKDHS is alive to apparatus the affairs statewide.
OKDHS additionally afresh launched SNAP in Schools, a affiliation with Oklahoma Accompaniment Department of Apprenticeship and the nonprofit Ache Chargeless Oklahoma.
The pilot affairs allows families to administer for SNAP allowances while enrolling their accouchement in school, giving OKDHS admission to added low-income families and streamlining the appliance process.
Martin said OKDHS hopes to aing the gap amid SNAP acceptable and enrolled Oklahomans by bristles percent over the aing two years.
Closing that gap could accept a cogent appulse in academy districts like Enid Accessible Schools, where about three out of four accouchement authorize for chargeless or reduced-price meals.
SNAP in Schools currently is actuality activated in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Tahlequah accessible schools, but Martin said OKDHS hopes to cycle out the affairs statewide over the aing two years.
While SNAP allowances accord recipients the adeptness to boutique for advantage in bartering stores, the affairs additionally helps nonprofit aliment pantries amplitude their resources.
Loaves and Fishes of Northwest Oklahoma collects and distributes about 70,000 pounds of aliment anniversary ages to an boilerplate of added than 650 low-income households.
“It does advice us amplitude our assets if bodies accept aliment advancing in from added places than aloof Loaves and Fishes,” said Katie Long, abettor administrator at Loaves and Fishes of Northwest Oklahoma.
She said some Loaves and Fishes audience accept the delusion that if they enrolled in SNAP they no best would be able to boutique at the aliment ability center. Families can accept in SNAP and still use Loaves and Fishes as needed, she said, and SNAP helps accord those families added adherence than relying alone on the nonprofit aliment ability center.
“We are accessible to the accessible 12 hours a week, so if they’re not accessible those 12 hours we can’t advice them,” Long said. “But, if we can advice them get active up for SNAP, it absolutely increases their admission to food.”
Getting added bodies enrolled in SNAP additionally frees up assets to advice added associates of the association who ability not authorize for SNAP benefits, but may still charge advice acclamation aliment insecurity, Long said.
Seniors, in particular, assume to advance Loaves and Fishes but not absolutely admission their SNAP benefits, Long said.
“So abounding of our seniors formed adamantine all their lives, and so abounding of them served our country to booty affliction of us, and now it’s their time to be taken affliction of,” Long said, “and SNAP is one of the means their basal needs can be met.”
For added advice on SNAP allowances and accommodation visit tinyurl.com/OKSNAP. For added advice on or to accord to Loaves and Fishes visit loavesandfishesnwok.org.
Long said Loaves and Fishes currently is decidedly in charge of donations of babyish aliment and formula, which can be donated at the aliment ability centermost at 701 E. Maine.
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