National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week highlights need to enroll for assistance

people-2560321_1920.jpgThe Colorado Department of Human Services is close to reaching its goal of enrolling 8,000 additional eligible residents in the federal food assistance program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, in an effort to combat food insecurity in Colorado.

“As we prepare to observe National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, we are renewing our efforts to get food to hungry Coloradans who need a helping hand," said Ki’i Powell, director of CDHS’s Office of Economic Security.

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which runs Nov. 10-18, is held each year the week before Thanksgiving and is designed to bring attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness across the country. Sponsored by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, more than 700 high schools, colleges and community groups across the nation are expected to come together this year to raise awareness about the issues of hunger and homelessness.

Currently, one in 10 Coloradans struggle with hunger and one in six Colorado children may not know when or where they might get their next meal. In addition, one in 10 Colorado seniors struggle with food security.

CDHS is among the leaders in a statewide campaign to reduce food insecurity in Colorado and, starting in October of 2017, had set a goal of increasing the number of new SNAP enrollees by 8,000 by Sept. 30, 2018. As of the end of August, 2018, the amount of new enrollees in SNAP numbered 7,616.

It is estimated that there are 350,000 state residents potentially eligible to receive SNAP benefits but not enrolled in the program.

CDHS is also a partner in the Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger, a five-year plan launched in January of 2018. Part of that plan is to increase Coloradans’ access to food assistance by 5.5 percent each year, meaning 10,000 vulnerable households (approximately 22,000 Coloradans) would have more adequate nutrition to improve their health and well-being by the end of the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Enrolling 10,000 households in SNAP could result in nearly $61 million additional economic activity for the state, more than $300 million in reduced Medicaid expenditures and 13,500 children avoiding food insecurity annually.