snapgap 300 92817Among those at Town Hall to kick off the "Closing the Arlington SNAP Gap" campaign. More than two dozen community partners came together for breakfast at the Town Hall this week to mark the beginning of a campaign aimed at closing the SNAP gap.

Town health and human services' leaders aim to ease barriers to sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which used to be called food stamps. The federal food assistance provides direct financial assistance to low-income residents to buy healthy, nutritious food, as well as economic benefits to communities.

The SNAP gap is the number of residents who are eligible to receive SNAP benefits, but are not enrolled in the program.

The Greater Boston Food Bank say 3,550 Arlington residents are food-insecure, which means they have limited or inconsistent access to adequate food. Of that number, more than 2,500 Arlington residents fall into the SNAP gap.

"The SNAP application process can be cumbersome for some, so by establishing Arlington as a site to complete applications we hope to eliminate any barriers that may exist," Christine Bongiorno, director of Health and Human Services, said in a Sept. 28 news release.

The campaign, called "Closing the Arlington SNAP Gap," was announced Tuesday, Sept. 26.

Bongiorno continued: "Arlington is a desirable community with a booming real estate market and exceptional schools, but there is an undercurrent of poverty that exists, and we must continue to work every day to help these people survive.

"There are a number of resources that can assist Arlington residents with accessing food, but by closing the SNAP gap, we can provide an extra resource to those community members who need it."

One demographic that has been particularly affected by the SNAP gap is Arlington's senior population. The town Department of Health and Human Services has received a grant through the Council on Aging that will allow the department to conduct outreach and enroll residents in the SNAP program.

In addition to providing financial resources to residents, SNAP also provides economic benefits to communities. By enrolling all eligible residents in the program, Arlington stands to gain roughly $3.8 million in federal funding to benefit local food stores.

Arlington residents who wish to sign up for SNAP can call the Arlington Council on Aging at 781-316-3400 or visit the town's website.


In 2009-2010, the American Recovery and Responsibility Act (ARRA) boosted SNAP benefits by 13.6 percent. A study of MassHealth costs from 2006 to 2012 found that, when SNAP benefits were increased during the ARRA, MassHealth costs declined, primarily because of a drop in hospitalizations.

The average SNAP benefit per person is $126 per month. Over the course of the year, that amounts to $3.8 million in lost federal funding to support Arlington residents, businesses and the local economy.

Town health and human services needs your help in reaching out to residents that may qualify for SNAP. Help close the gap by spreading the word:

-- Post SNAP Gap materials in your agency or business;

-- Reach out to friends and family about Closing the Arlington SNAP Gap efforts follow and promote #ArlingtonSNAPGap social media campaign; and

-- Volunteer to help a partnering agency to promote food distribution in Arlington.

This announcement was published Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017.