More of Minnesota's elderly residents are signing up for food stamps.
In 2012, the number of elderly on Minnesota's food stamp rolls jumped by more than 2,500 people.
That was largely the result of a campaign by state officials and anti-hunger groups encouraging senior citizens to sign up. Older people have historically been reluctant to enroll in the program, said Colleen Moriarty, executive director of Hunger Solutions Minnesota.
"We had this large group of people who are living on a very limited income, who are having bad health outcomes because they don't have the proper nutrition," Moriarty said. "And here we had this benefit ready to go, and we were having a hard time convincing people to use it."
Moriarty said that some older people do not sign up because of a perceived stigma, and some mistakenly worry that if they take the money, there will be less for hungry children.
Erin Sullivan Sutton, the state's assistant commissioner for Children and Family Services, explained why older people have sometimes been reluctant to participate.
"Historically, there's been some stigma associated with the program because it is a public assistance program," Sutton said. "And the application process may be confusing or difficult for seniors. So, in fact, we're in process right now of developing a simplified application for seniors and hope to be rolling that out this coming year, in 2013."
State officials set a goal to get 50 percent of eligible senior citizenss on food stamps by the end of 2012. Final data isn't in yet, but they say they are on track to meet that goal.
Overall, more than 500,000 Minnesotans receive food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
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