Benefits Connection Offers Holiday Hope

Sometimes, when everything seems to be going well, despite our best efforts, life goes awry. Most of us can handle one or two hiccups at a time, like when it’s raining and there’s an accident on 1-4 at rush hour and then you spill coffee on your shirt.

Other times, the problems are more complex and you reach a breaking point. Just days before Christmas, Joann found herself at the end of her rope. Hungry, dizzy and in need of hope.

Joann previously participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. The program allowed her to purchase fresh meats, produce and other grocery items at her local supermarket when times were tough. After she found a roommate to help with rent and other bills, her financial situation changed and she cancelled her assistance last spring.

Life was going well again, until recently. Joann suffered a series of unfortunate events this fall. First, her home was damaged by Hurricane Irma. Then, her roommate moved out before paying the last month’s rent. Joann fell behind on repair bills and living expenses. She didn’t have any money left to buy food. She was in desperate need of help.

When she hadn’t eaten in two weeks – and had lost 17 pounds – she turned to Karen, one of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida’s Benefits Connection Specialists, for assistance.

Karen offered to help Joann reapply for SNAP and looked up an emergency food pantry near her home. When Karen looked up Joann’s status, the account was still active. Joann had a balance available immediately.

“We cried together,” Karen recalls. “It was a holiday miracle.”

The Benefits Connection team offers SNAP application assistance, advice and support to working families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities, at locations in Orange and Brevard Counties. For every $5 in new SNAP benefits, $9 in economic activity is generated in the community.

For more information on SNAP or to meet with a Benefits Connection Specialist, visit www.feedhopenow.org/how_help_benefits.

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