I spend a lot of time at county social services offices and see families of every size, shape and kind. In addition to their need for assistance, one common bond that many families share is confusion about the rules of the programs they’re applying for, frustration with the overall process and the often very crowded conditions of those offices.
In addition to food distribution, one of the programs offered by the Capital Area Food Bank teaches families about SNAP (formerly Food Stamps). Families learn who is eligible and receive assistance with the application process. With the food bank’s help and new policies instituted by local social services offices, some of these families - particularly senior citizens – never have to leave their apartment buildings to apply for and receive SNAP benefits.
This helps cut down on the number of people waiting at social services and keeps families from having to miss work or pay for transportation in order to apply for assistance. The food bank’s ability, however, to reach these families is only possible through the numerous organizations, community centers and apartment buildings which recognize that the families they’re serving need this help.
Some of these organizations receive training from the food bank on how to guide families through the application process, while others may make space in their own cramped facilities for a food bank staff member or trained volunteer to speak and work directly with their families on a regular basis.
One of these organizations is Manna Food Center in Montgomery County. By partnering together, the CAFB and Manna have given SNAP information to nearly 300 Montgomery County families visiting Manna’s main location in Gaithersburg since July of 2010. Beginning this month, the food bank will be visiting Manna’s satellite locations, offering information and assistance to families across the county.
Through some of Manna’s food recipients the food bank is also being invited into senior and family apartment buildings in the county where many are in need of food. These buildings are welcoming the CAFB’s offer to work with their residents on SNAP applications and have offered many ways of making this as successful and smooth of a process as possible. With the community working together, hundreds of additional families will now have the opportunity to learn about vital resources and those eligible will receive much needed money to provide their families with meals.