If you’ve noticed your grocery store receipt is higher than usual, you’re not alone. Grocery store food prices rose 3.5% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
An increase in food costs has made it more difficult for some families, which is why advocacy groups are reminding consumers that help is out there.
A recent survey by the U.S. Census found about a quarter of Arizona residents who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, aren’t using it.
“They’re often in a situation where they think it’s not appropriate for them to apply or they’re ashamed of applying or embarrassed of applying,” said Cynthia Zwick, Executive Director of Wildfire Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona.
Zwick says most of the families who qualify for SNAP have children to feed, which is why she’s encouraging families who are struggling to apply.
ABC15 broke down some common questions you may have about the process.
- How do I apply? You can call 1-855-432-7587 and a representative will help fill out an application for you. You can have someone print out the application for you at des.az.gov and you can mail the application. Or, you can fill out an application online at healthearizonaplus.gov.
- What do I need to apply? You’ll need your date of birth, social security number and documentation showing your expenses and income each month.
- How do I know if I’m eligible? Claudia Maldonado with Keogh Health Connection says there isn’t one specific income that determines eligibility, but rather a number of different factors, which is why she encourages anyone in need to apply. Keogh offers free assistance to walk you through the process and fill out forms for you.
- How soon after I apply will I hear back? Maldonado says anywhere between seven and 30 days, depending on your individual circumstance.
To watch a step-by-step video on how to apply for SNAP, click here.
If you need help finding affordable food, the Arizona Food Bank Network has a list of resources here.
College Students Eligible for SNAP
Under the COVID-19 relief act passed in December, more college students are now eligible to apply for SNAP.
Here are the qualifications according to Maureen McCoy, the faculty advisor for Pitchfork Pantry:
- You have to be enrolled at least half-time in college
- You needed to have filled out a FAFSA form for student aid. In that application, you have to show that your family contribution is $0.
- You have to have an income of under 185% of the federal poverty line, which is about $23,000 a year.
Pitchfork Pantry is a student-run food pantry available on all ASU campuses. According to Lindsay Pacheco, the student-led Pitchfork Pantry has seen a spike in students coming to them for help.
“We also connect them with greater resources beyond what we provide,” Pacheco said. “Sometimes it’s just like 'Hey, I’m a struggling college student. Tuition was really expensive. I had to make a really huge tuition payment and I just need help.'”
“The starving student concept of being in college is way too normalized and it’s not normalized to live off of ramen. That’s not what we’re shooting for,” said McCoy.
The pantry currently serves about 200 to 300 students a week. For more details about Pitchfork Pantry, click here.