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Hudson Valley Community Services Receives Fresh Funding From Hunger Solutions NY
Hudson Valley Community Services (HVCS) has received new funding from Hunger Solutions NY to start a Nutritional Outreach and Education Program this summer in three Hudson Valley counties. The main goal of the program is to connect individuals, working families and seniors who are food-insecure and need nutritional support with a variety of services, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Offering nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families, SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net. SNAP is the new term for what was called the "food stamp" program.
Starting July 1, HVCS will hire three new staff members to perform outreach in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties to find working families and seniors who qualify for SNAP but who are not yet signed up for services. The program targets people who have nutritional deficiencies but may not know that they qualify for more help. "SNAP-eligible working families with children are both everywhere, yet not easily identifiable," says Jeff Kraus, HVCS Executive Director. "Families assume that they are not eligible for SNAP because they are working, that SNAP is contingent on other assistance programs, and that they need to be citizens. But SNAP is more widely available."
Kraus also stresses that social stigma plays a role. "People think that they don't 'look' like they need SNAP. And if they're not receiving other benefits, they might also be unfamiliar with procedures for accessing government programs."
He cites the traditional government program office hours as an example. "If you're working an hourly rate job, you can't leave between 9 and 5 to go into an office to fill out paperwork. Our staff will be able to work around such barriers."
HVCS staffers will guide applicants through the sign-up process and can connect them to emergency food closets and other services while the application is pending.
The new program will also identify and sign up senior citizens who face their own unique nutritional shortages. Older adults are often unaware of the eligibility considerations that affect them, and may suffer from mobility and transportation limitations. "Seniors also fear the potential stigma of getting help,"Kraus says. "Our goal is to remove any barriers that keep people from accessing this vital food program."
Staff will provide outreach and education to individuals with complex needs, such as mental health or substance abuse issues, as well as immigrants, who often assume they are not eligible for many programs due to their residency status.
"We are thrilled that Hunger Solutions NY has entrusted HVCS to start this program in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties," Kraus says. "We're creating jobs while helping the hungry and those on the edge of hunger. This is a win-win for the Hudson Valley."
About Hudson Valley Community Services
HVCS' mission is to promote prevention and wellness for all people, to encourage life-affirming decisions maximizing their quality of life, and to coordinate care for those living with complex health conditions. Founded in 1983, HVCS touches the lives of over 3,500 of the neediest residents annually through offices in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties. Visit www.hudsonvalleycs.org for complete information on HVCS' programs and services.
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