AARP AARP States Idaho Advocacy

Advocacy in Action: Breaking Down Barriers

AARP Idaho Advocacy
Boise, Idaho – After more than two hours of debate, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved a bill (SB1053) changing the way SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits are distributed in Idaho. The vote was 6-3 and the bill will now head to the Senate floor for a full vote with a do-pass recommendation. A similar bill failed to get out of the same committee last year.

AARP Idaho Executive Council volunteer Lynn Young testified to the committee in favor of SB1053 which would change the issuance of SNAP benefits, also commonly known as food stamps, from a single day issuance to a multi-day issuance which would occur over the course of ten days.

It is the opinion of AARP Idaho that the current single day issuance approach promotes food access barriers and fosters an environment which is detrimental to older Idahoans.

View the full testimony.

Good Afternoon Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

My name is Lynn Young and I am a member of the all-volunteer board of directors at AARP Idaho.

I stand before you today representing the 178,000 AARP members across the state in support of Senate Bill 1053 and specifically the change from a single day issuance to a multi-day which would occur over the course of ten days.

AARP Idaho is actively involved in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program outreach and education especially to seniors in rural communities across our state. We know and see first-hand that for a variety of reasons Idaho seniors living on fixed incomes are hurting. Unfortunately the number of Idaho seniors in need of assistance is higher today than ever before.

I’d like to share with you some statistics which I hope will be useful to the committee.

Meals on Wheels reports that Idaho is ranked as the 15th state most at risk for hunger and according to a 2010 AARP survey, 71% of Idaho seniors say their monthly expenses have grown with the cost of groceries and utilities increasing the most.

Food stamps play a critical and important role in the lives of thousands of Idahoans. Many of these are children, elderly or disabled. In fact, 83% of households in Idaho have a child, senior or disabled person.

Idaho has the 49th lowest per capita income in the nation. Low and middle income seniors in Idaho often times have to choose between medicine, utilities and food.

Idaho also has one of the fastest growth rates of grandparents raising grandchildren. Census data tells us that 60% are more likely to be in poverty.

In our opinion the current single day issuance approach fosters an environment which is detrimental to older Idahoans.

Essential perishable products sell out quickly and the ensuing long lines promote food access barriers. This is especially true for those Idaho seniors with disabilities, small children and limited transportation options. The impact is particularly acute on seniors in rural communities.

Another impact is the increasingly negative community perception of “those people at the stores at the first of the month” which stigmatizes older Idahoans and segregates them from the main stream population while reinforcing unnecessary stereotypes. The folks we are talking about represent hard working and honorable Idahoans that are not comfortable taking, what some would say, is a free meal.

As such, seniors underutilize food stamps. Nationally only about a third of those eligible participate often times due to these unnecessary and hurtful perceptions.

Please make no mistake. Director Armstrong and his staff do a tremendous job running a program which has been nationally recognized for the good work they do on behalf of all Idahoans. Our members respect and appreciate the Chairman, this committee and the Department of Health and Welfare’s willingness to consider a new approach.

Thank you.

About AARP Idaho
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.