Hunger Free Vermont improves access to and participation in 3SquaresVT (formerly known as food stamps and known nationally as SNAP), one of the most reliable, consistent, and dignified means to prevent hunger.
Nearly 85,000 Vermonters struggle to access enough nutritious food on a daily basis. As a rural state, where hunger is often hidden and diffuse, Vermont is presented with unique challenges, including: a lack of awareness about the issue; an absence of population density to create economies of scale for nutrition programs; problems of transportation and distribution; and fragmentation of services. To provide food insecure Vermonters a resource to purchase food for the home, Hunger Free Vermont works to improve access to and participation in 3SquaresVT.
Hunger and the risk of hunger among the elderly have significant impacts on health and well-being. Food insecure seniors are more likely to be diabetic, suffer from depression and have limited daily activities, and are far less likely to be considered in excellent or good health. Many seniors living in rural areas struggle with isolation, transportation, and the high cost of heating through Vermont’s long winters. Younger seniors, aged 60-65, are particularly vulnerable to hunger and inadequate nutrition because they are often not yet eligible for other safety net programs such as Medicare. Seniors participate in 3SquaresVT at a much lower rate than other demographics; the Vermont Department of Children and Families (which administers the program) estimates that only 30% of all eligible Vermont seniors are participating in 3SquaresVT.
Hunger Free Vermont began its 3SquaresVT outreach efforts in 2000 in response to low participation by eligible Vermonters. In 2001, there were fewer than 39,000 participants. Today, there are over 93,000 participants, including 98% of eligible Vermonters living just above poverty. To increase program participation, Hunger Free Vermont works closely with the Department for Children and Families, conducts training sessions for advocates and service providers, facilitates a statewide work group of state administrators and community partners to improve the program and creates outreach and educational materials to increase participation, and advocates for policies at the state and national level to improve access. In partnership with the United Way of Chittenden County and CVAA, Hunger Free Vermont coordinates the Eat Well, Age Well program - a peer-to-peer outreach project that connects seniors with peer volunteers to help them apply for 3SquaresVT.
Through out 3SquaresVT Outreach and Education program, we will continue to work with our many partners to identify opportunities for program improvements, such as modernizing and streamlining the application process so that all eligible Vermonters can access this important nutrition program.
For those interested in helping to raise awareness about the challenges of eating well on a limited food budget and the importance of the 3SquaresVT benefit for helping Vermonters make ends meet, consider taking the 3SquaresVT Challenge.
RESOURCES FOR 3SQUARESVT APPLICANTS AND ADVOCATES
- Visit Hunger Free Vermont’s vermontfoodhelp.com, a comprehensive resource for 3SquaresVT applicants and advocates that includes an eligibility calculator and outreach tools.
- Alleviating Poverty in the United States: The Critical Role of SNAP Benefits, USDA
- The Economic Consequences of Cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Center for American Progress
- The SNAP Vaccine, Children's HealthWatch
- 3SquaresVT "Envelope Stuffer" For use with school or business mailings to inform recipients about getting food assistance with the 3SquaresVT program.
Thank you to our sponsor, City Market, for supporting our 3SquaresVT focused outreach to senior and immigrant populations. Click here to learn more about City Market's Food For All program which gives 3SquaresVT, WIC, and disability assistance participants a 10% discount on groceries.