Encourage seniors to seek funds

The Pennsylvania chapter of the AARP has embarked on an effort to encourage eligible senior citizens to sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps.

The organization estimates that almost 350,000 seniors in Pennsylvania do not always have enough money to buy food.

Its research indicates that in rural areas, the number of seniors enrolled in the state’s food stamp program is less than half the number receiving assistance with the cost of prescription drugs, even though the income guidelines for both programs are essentially the same.

No one likes to think of an elderly person trying to get by with a bare cupboard and refrigerator.

And if that’s truly the case, then the AARP will be doing a service by convincing them to sign up for a program that will help put food on their tables.

In other cases, we suspect that some senior citizens apply for help with covering the cost of prescription drugs – and forego asking for food stamps – because they can’t control what they pay for prescription drugs.

But the food bill is something those seniors think they can control, or at least try to control, by selecting less expensive products, by choosing in-season produce and, when necessary, by turning to local food banks and soup kitchens.

Such practices, for the elderly, are often more acceptable and avoid the stigma they associate with turning to the government for food stamps.

The AARP and its affiliated charity, the AARP Foundation, should be commended for trying to make sure that our some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens don’t go hungry.

Last year, their representatives helped 1,100 older residents in Georgia fill out applications for food stamps, a task that also likely keeps some elderly residents from seeking help.

If you’re having trouble keeping a supply of food on hand, or if you know someone with that difficulty, contact the Blair County Assistance Office at 946-7111.

Information on the food stamp program is also available on the state’s website at www.dpw.state.pa.us.