Low-income Latino families will get help signing up for food stamps thanks to a new state grant.
The $20,000 grant to Neighborhood House will allow the St. Paul nonprofit to assist Spanish-speaking families who have trouble affording food.
State officials say many low-income Latino families who are eligible for food stamps aren't enrolled in the program, officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
Often, people don't know how to sign up for the program, and are hampered by their inability to speak English, said Armando Camacho, president of Neighborhood House.
"When you don't speak the language or you're not as fluent in English, you don't feel welcomed in a lot of places," Camacho said. "So a lot of it is trying to break down barriers with our immigrant and refugee families, and the state is being innovative enough to know that they can't do it on their own."
The assistance could help stabilize families who are struggling financially.
"Hopefully that will build a foundation where then they can start focusing on jobs or improving their jobs," Camacho said. "Because we have a number of people who are the working poor, who actually have full-time jobs but are not making enough to be able to feed their family."
The grant was made possible when Minnesota received a $1.2 million federal bonus for increasing food stamp use among eligible Minnesotans.
State officials are also using part of the bonus to fund a pilot program to encourage food stamp recipients to buy more fruits and vegetables, and to increase backpack programs that provide food for low-income children during the summer.
Neighborhood House also recently received a $50,000 grant from Hunger-Free Minnesota to help people in the Hmong community enroll in food stamps.