New Resource Specialist Program Helps Needy Families Apply for Assistance

Salt Lake CAP would like to make the public aware of a new but underutilized resource available to families in crisis.

The Salt Lake Community Action Program has a Resource Specialist in each of their five food pantries. The program has been available for six months but few people realize it is available. This is a new program designed to help people coming in to pick up three days of emergency food from the food pantries. If someone is eligible for emergency food they are likely eligible for other services but may not know they exist.

 This is where the resource specialists come in. They will sit down with the family and see what other community services a family or individual can utilize to get them through tough times. The Resource Specialists assist people in filling out paperwork and navigating the process of qualifying for and receiving assistance from a variety of community programs.

 We have Resource Specialists in our Magna, West Valley, Salt Lake City, Midvale and Murray food pantries. The locations of the food pantries are  found here:

http://www.slcap.org/fdpntry.htm

 In addition to the emergency food pantries we have a Food Stamp Calculator on our website and a link to apply for food stamps online. We have many stories of community members who have been helped by the program already. Here are a few memorable stories of families and individuals who were helped. The following stories are from only a few individuals directly helped by our Resource Specialist Program. The names have been changed to produce

“Anna” came into one of Salt Lake CAP’s food pantries seeking an emergency three-day supply of food. She is a single mother of five and her first husband abused and beat her so badly she only had several teeth. When we heard she lost her teeth due to an abusive spouse, we assisted her in applying for the “Give Back a Smile” program.  After filling out the paperwork, having an interview with an advocate, and waiting, Anna got word that was approved for the program.  She went to the dentist who cast models for dentures, free of charge.  She anticipates receiving her dentures soon and after 7 years will finally have a beautiful smile again. 

 While “Ernesto” was in the Salt Lake CAP Food Bank he asked for some help applying for the CHIP program for his son, whose vision program was making school difficult. Ernesto’s wife is bedridden with cancer, and so he is the sole breadwinner and caregiver for the entire family. His wife can’t walk because of the cancer so he has to carry her around the house and out to the car. When he came in to the office he looked exhausted. He and the Resource Specialist applied for medical assistance together and after helping him get all the required documents turned in, he was awarded Medicaid for his family.

 He didn’t’ know what plan to choose and needed to go to the Medicaid class to learn about it. The problem was that the only times the classes were available in Spanish were days he takes his wife to get radiation. One of our resources specialists was able to go and get all the information he would need to choose a plan. We got it all set up and he was able to get an appointment to get his son’s eyes fixed. His son now is happier and more successful in school.

 A family of seven who had just lost both of their incomes went to one of our pantries for help. The father collected a small amount of unemployment while the mother was ineligible to collect it. The family had already applied for food stamps, but had been denied twice over a period of 4 months. They were in dire need. The reason they were denied both times was because they owned a rental property. The rental had once supplied a small amount of money for the family every month. Now it was their only source of income. The income was so little they couldn’t get by on it. One of our resource specialists told the family not to apply again, but to file for a fair hearing.

When we followed up with the family we were delighted to learn  they had won the case and been awarded $3000 in unpaid benefits plus an additional $1100 per month for the next 6 months. If not for this resource specialist’s intervention, the family might never have known that they could appeal the decision and would have lost out on those benefits. This had been a family on the brink.

 Hunger in Utah is real. Food stamps are meant to supplement other means of bringing in food but often are the only food source a family has. Poverty in Utah is real. Sometimes people need a little help to get back on their feet. The employees of Salt Lake CAP are proud to assist so many families in times of need and make a difference in their lives when they need it most.

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