Food stamp enrollment fair this Friday in Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina says in the 18 counties they serve – from Burlington to Boone – as much as 20 percent of seniors 60 and over, and disabled citizens, are food insecure.

“We are having this incredible challenge in trying to take on poverty and hunger in this community,” said James Perry, president & CEO of the Winston-Salem Urban League.

The Winston-Salem Urban League wants to get those people signed up for SNAP benefits; better known as food stamps. However, getting seniors to sign up is difficult for many reasons.

“Many times these are people who have worked their entire lives and supported themselves their entire lives,” Perry said. “All we’re saying is that you’ve worked so hard, so you deserve some help, and let us give it to you.”

Some seniors simply can’t get around well enough or think they aren’t eligible for such benefits.

“I thought the SNAP program was for people with young children,” said Shirley Agagee, a SNAP benefits recipient. “I wouldn’t say I was totally starving to death, but there [were] a lot of things I didn’t do, or didn’t eat.”

“I wasn’t able to purchase a lot of things that were nutritional,” added disabled veteran Glen Arvey.

The Winston-Salem Urban League’s SNAP enrollment program ends on April 30, 2016. To get people the vouchers before it’s too late, they’re having a SNAP EBT enrollment fair this Friday, March 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Hanes Hosiery Recreation Center located at 500 Reynolds Boulevard in Winston-Salem. However, Perry says you can see if you qualify for the vouchers no matter where you live in North Carolina.

“I’m able to get more fresh vegetables and fruit because of this program,” Agagee said. “It won’t hurt to see if you qualify.”

The Winston-Salem Urban League says the benefits are available to seniors over age 60 with an income under $22,800, and people of any age with a disability. To find out more about SNAP eligibility, contact Tangela Reed, Winston-Salem Urban League SNAP enrollment counselor, at (336) 725-5614 extension 3011, or email treed@wsurban.org.

For more information about the National Council on Aging’s senior hunger initiative, visit www.ncoa.org/seniorhunger.