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Daily Newscasts

AZ Anti-Hunger Agencies Get Help Reaching Apprehensive Latinos

July 26, 2010

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Arizona's anti-hunger agencies will get a boost starting this fall, as two paid national interns spend six months helping to increase awareness and participation in the food stamp program. Arizona Community Action Association director Cynthia Zwick says the recent college grads, known as "Hunger Fellows," will concentrate on serving Arizona's Hispanic and Latino communities.

"That population tends to be underserved from the nutrition-assistance standpoint. Also, the political environment right now has created some barriers to application for food stamps for families that are eligible, people who are legal residents."

The number of Arizonans receiving "SNAP" (food stamp benefits) recently topped 1 million, as a result of the state's slow recovery from the recession. Enrollment has increased steadily for the past three years.

Zwick says her agency's intern will help with outreach to Spanish-speaking Arizonans.

"The Fellow coming to work with Arizona Community Action Association does speak fluent Spanish, so she will be out in the community helping families learn more about the program, helping us connect with that community. The bottom line, really, is that families who are eligible have access to those benefits."

A second intern has been assigned to the Association of Arizona Food Banks.

Zwick says the intern program is a win-win proposition.

"They have an opportunity to get some hands-on experience in a community that's dealing with hunger issues like Arizona, and we get the benefit of their time at no cost to us."

The interns are from the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship. One is a Duke University graduate, the other a graduate of Xavier University. They plan careers with anti-hunger and anti-poverty organizations.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ