As the pandemic’s grip on the country’s social mores vacillates, another concern arises.
Food insecurity for about 450 Westford families and individuals is a rising concern, but one with a special program to ensure no one in Westford goes hungry.
The Cameron Senior Center recently was named an outreach partner for the government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — otherwise known as SNAP.
“We’ve been helping people apply for SNAP for a long time,” said Alison Christopher, the town’s Social Worker, whose office is inside the Cameron Senior Center.
“But what’s different now is we’ve become an outreach partner for the SNAP program, so the senior service staff is now available to help people of all ages in town to make a more direct application to the Department of Transitional Assistance. We’ve been given access to the Department of Transitional Assistance portal, as long as the client signs a release and gives permission…”
Christopher said the Cameron staff members can help upload documents, submit applications and check on the status of those applications.
“It allows us a lot more access to information without the client having to try to navigate the DTA’s phone system — being on hold, getting in touch with a worker who they don’t know, and trying to figure out what else they need to do on their case,” Christopher added.
Christopher declined to specify what qualifies someone for the program. “…There are different criteria for people over 60 than there are for people under 60. It’s based on household size,” she said. “People with disabilities have different criteria and there are deductions that are taken from the gross household income…”
Christopher said the staff members have a simple tool through the Department of Transitional Assistance which allows them to speak with their clients by phone, ask five or six questions, input the information, and tell clients whether it appears they’re eligible or not so they can make a decision whether to apply.
Christopher said there are households already on SNAP and may need help with reapplying, Cameron staff members can assist.
“You don’t have to be new to SNAP to call us for help,” she said.