The state has noticed fewer people are using a federal food assistance program and is encouraging people to apply.
These days Susan Remington of Cabot is up early making her favorite pudding. But last February when she was diagnosed with Lymphoma, it was a different story.
“I was incapable of doing anything and if I didn’t have that I don’t know what I would have done,” says Susan Remington.
Susan is on 3SquaresVT, a food safety net program providing benefits for low income Vermonters.
“What we see in our case load is we see a lot of children, a lot of elderly Vermonters,” says Sean Brown, Deputy Commissioner of DCF’s Economic Services Division.
He says there are currently just under 80,000 people in the program.
“That’s down from a high of about 110,000 in April 2013.”
While the overall case loads have been declining recently, Brown says one part of the population that has grown a bit is seniors.
“Without their help their would have been more difficult choices to make for sure,” says Remington.
She, like most seniors on the program, receive an average of about $150 a month. It helps to take the pressure off, as she focuses on recovery.
“Because of the treatments and the effect on me I was unable to work and I have nothing coming in and I did not have any savings.”
As a federal program, Vermont issues about $10 million a month in 3SquaresVT benefits.
“On an average year, it’s about 120 million dollars into the Vermont economy to support the food network,” says Brown.
Brown says there is room in the budget for more participants, and the state is encouraging more people apply.
“We’ve created a separate application for elderly and disabled folks. It’s a much shorter application just to apply for 3Squares,” says Brown.
Susan’s cancer is in remission, and now she’s able to step in the kitchen whenever she pleases.
“I am very, very, very grateful for the help,” says Susan.
Under the 3SquaresVT, the average household receives about $230 a month in benefits.