Thoughts on stretching 3SquaresVT, other benefits

As noted in this article, extra benefits for food stamps were given during the Covid years, but those benefits are no longer available.

The average food stamps per senior is only about $180 a month. The fact is, benefits are exhausted within three weeks depending on if a family is cooking a big meal for the holidays.

In Massachusetts, the Healthy Incentives Program offered limited produce to Food Stamps recipients due to the floods this year. Although farmstands do provide vegetables that qualify for benefits, many seniors and disabled individuals do not have vehicles to get to these venues.

As we know, the food banks are a supplement to, or even the primary source, of one's meals. The average food bank overall provides the same foods upon each pickup: canned vegetables, a macaroni and cheese box, spaghetti sauce, noodles, canned fruit, peanut butter, cereal, canned beans, tuna fish, and maybe 1 lb. of hamburger or fish.

In summer, fresh vegetables are available. And some even provide paper products or holiday grocery store vouchers. Many food stamp recipients go to more than one food bank two to three times a month to feed their family. They still find the same menus.

Many churches provide free suppers, but again, let's remind the readers of the hardships for seniors and disabled people who must struggle with picking up food benefits during winter conditions.

School children can apply for free lunches. Seniors can receive the basic Meals on Wheels program of varying quality. But these lunches are about $90 per month unless home care waives this fee.

Food security for nutritious, less-costly meals for each of us is key to good health. Doctors fail to ask about our meals. Poverty is increasing for the working poor, seniors, children, and disabled - the average income is $35,000.

In conclusion, many are not eligible for food stamps (SNAP) since the program went over income by few dollars and the application is eight pages long. Seniors are at a disadvantage.

So encourage all to apply, as any medical costs out of pocket - such as total printout of prescription costs from pharmacy and transportation costs to medical appointments - can determine your cost. Also, if you're on subsidized rent, be sure to submit all your medical costs, as this will reduce your rent.

Betty Tegel

Turners Falls, Mass.

This letter to the editor was submitted to The Commons.

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