Secretary Vilsack likes to say that because of the scope of its programs, USDA serves Americans every day, every way.
A recent experience from a Midwest feeding partner, Milwaukee Hunger Task Force, demonstrates the immense—and also incredibly personal—reach of USDA programs, the importance of our partners, and the positive effect our programs have on so many Americans, including the elderly.
Recently, Hunger Task Force’s Michael Jonas fielded a call from Ruth, a 74-year-old area resident. Wanting to bake some Christmas cookies or kuchen, a traditional pastry favorite in parts of Wisconsin, the retiree asked for help in getting some baking ingredients.
Very quickly, Ruth broke down, hesitating to divulge that she experienced hunger on a regular basis and was having trouble making ends meet.
In addition to providing her with a food box, Jonas suggested USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. At first Ruth, who grew up on a nearby farm and had always been self-sufficient, balked. But Jonas and another Task Force member helped her through the application process which resulted in the long-time resident being eligible for nearly $200 in benefits.
Ruth sent her blessings to Task Force staff and said she “wished she hadn’t waited so long to call.”
Instead of worrying about how she’ll feed herself, Ruth can now worry about making the perfect Christmas kuchen.
With a strong partner like Milwaukee Hunger Task Force, and a wonderful program like SNAP, USDA is able to serve so many Americans—including the elderly—every day, every way. Even—and perhaps most significantly—at Christmas-time.
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