By Anthony Clark
Economically insecure seniors can receive help applying for benefits, job training or other services through the Institute for Workforce Innovation as a result of two grants from the National Council on Aging.
IWI received a $10,000 NCOA grant funded by the Walmart Foundation in March to help people age 60 and older apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — formerly food stamps — and a second $10,000 grant this month funded by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to connect with other services such as job searches and training, legal aid, housing assistance, and mortgage counseling.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that three of every five seniors who are eligible for SNAP benefits are not enrolled in the program, which provides an average of $119 per month.
The goals of the grants are to complete 200 SNAP applications and provide economic security casework to 100 or more seniors, according to Jessica Baker, director of development and special projects for IWI.
The economic security program was piloted in 24 other communities and provided seniors with an average increase in income or decrease in spending of $250, according to a news release.
The nonprofit agency was awarded the grants in part because of its location in unincorporated Melrose at the confluence of Alachua, Bradford, Clay and Putnam counties, where many rural residents do not have close access to government services, Baker said.
The services are available during the week at the Melrose Senior Community Center at 307 State Road 26 and IWI will hold events in each of the four counties. For information, call 352-475-5347.
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