By JENNIE ZEITLER, Staff Writer
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is encouraging all residents who may be eligible to apply for help with their food costs.
SNAP used to be called the Food Stamp Program. Benefits are now accessed through a card called electronic benefit transfer (EBT), which is just like a debit card and can be swiped at the grocery store. Starting June 1, those cards will be sent to recipients in the mail.
“Five years ago there were 536 cases with 1,069 individuals in Morrison County receiving $84,000 in benefits per year,” said Corrine Bjork, financial assistance supervisor.
“Currently, Morrison County distributes $295,000 in benefits annually in 1,298 cases with 2,773 people,” she said.
“There is a federal push to have more eligible people sign up,” said Bjork. “Only 41 percent of eligible Minnesota seniors are participating in the program.”
“There seems to be a thought process that, by signing up to receive benefits, a person is taking benefits away from someone else who might be eligible,” she said. “But that is not true.”
Sixty percent of families served in Morrison County are working people, with average monthly wages of $1,400. Eleven percent of those participating are unemployed or receiving workers compensation.
There is a screening tool available over the phone where a person can see if they might be eligible. Call 1 (888) 711-1151 or visit www. mn.bridgetobenefits.org and click on the start button in the middle of the page.
If a person is eligible, the next step is to call Morrison County Social Services at (320) 631-3599 or go online at www.co.morrison.mn.us and click on Social Services, then the online financial assistance application.
“We want to emphasize that anybody receiving SNAP is not taking benefits away from anyone else.” said Bjork.
SNAP is working through the Hunger-free Task Force in Morrison County. Both are part of the Live Better, Live Longer Task Force and part of Healthy Communities Collaborative. All are working to improve the health and well-being of the residents of Morrison County.
Hours for financial assistance at the Social Services Department are Monday through Wednesday, and Friday from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.