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Anti-Hunger Advocates Urge More SNAP Outreach in NH


Monday, January 10, 2022   

Supply-chain issues, inflation and job loss during the pandemic have put many families' food security at risk.

In New Hampshire, food insecurity remains higher than pre-pandemic levels, and recent census surveys show 7% of households are considered food insecure, and the number jumps to 8% for households with children.

Jessica Gorhan, deputy director of New Hampshire Hunger Solutions, said the Granite State could do a much better job at utilizing federal nutrition dollars for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the one for Women, Infants and Children.

"For WIC, we only serve about 44% of those who are eligible," said Gorhan. "And for SNAP, we rank 39th in the country. For SNAP participation, New Hampshire misses overall 18% of independent individuals who are eligible but not enrolled."

Gorhan added that among the state's older population, that number is closer to 60%.

She noted there's a bill before the New Hampshire General Court to increase SNAP outreach, SB 404, that would help let more people know they could be receiving benefits.

Gorhan noted that even with more people enrolled in SNAP, some residents still might struggle to get enough food on the table. She said SNAP covers roughly a $1.40 per meal per person, whereas the average cost of a meal is almost $3.50 per meal per person.

"We need to expand at the federal-level eligibility so that more people have access to SNAP, but we also need to expand the benefits," said Gorhan. "So some of that has been happening through the pandemic, which has helped to offset the costs, but we know that those things need to be permanent."

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, food prices overall have increased 6.8% since November 2020.

Prices for meat, poultry, fish and eggs have gone up more than 12% and 4% for fresh fruits and vegetables.

Gorhan said two more bills could help - a WIC farmers market incentive bill, and a farm-to-school reimbursement program.

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