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Urban Studies Faculty and Students Present at Conference in D.C.

Dr. Maureen Power (Urban Studies, IUI) and students Helen Shuster and Amanda Johnson presented a workshop at the 2012 Annual Conference of the American Society on Aging (ASA), March 31 in Washington, D.C. The ASA Conference, with more than 3,000 attendees, is recognized as a showcase for programs and projects that can be replicated, as well as a forum for policy discussion and advocacy. It is a prime source of information on new research findings in aging. ASA is the largest gathering of a diverse, multidisciplinary community of professionals from the fields of aging, healthcare and education, along with business leaders from across the United States.

The workshop was titled “Got Food? The Intergenerational HOT (Hunger Outreach Team) team approach to SNAP outreach with Elders.” The workshop established the importance of SNAP (Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as Food Stamps, in putting food on elders’ tables and money into the local economy. Despite increased benefits and the elimination of the assets test for income eligible elders, there is low elder enrollment in SNAP, resulting in less food on their tables and less money in local economies.

This session highlighted the role of the Intergenerational HOT team at Worcester State University, as a replicable intergenerational model that not only provides outreach and individual application assistance to elders, but also offers training and up-to-date information to councils on aging and resident services coordinators. Higher elder participation in SNAP can ease the financial strain of many elders who think it is for “poor people,” not them. The team also shared their outreach efforts to enroll eligible students on the WSU campus.

This unique opportunity to share the success of the WSU Hunger Outreach Team was well received by participants. As a result of this presentation, the HOT team approach will be noted in “best practices” for “SNAP Expansion,” a report currently being developed by Ann Bookman at the Heller School at Brandeis University, who thought the HOT approach was terrific.