Have you heard of the statewide program, 3SquaresVT? We spoke with Paula Fitzpatrick, Community Health Worker Team Lead at Age Well to learn more about the program.
What is 3SquaresVT?
3SquaresVT is a federal program referred to nationally as SNAP – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, administered in Vermont by the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
Vermont typically receives about 10 million federal dollars per month. 3SquaresVT provides these federal food benefits to individuals and families with low incomes, and the benefits can be used in authorized stores and farmer’s markets to buy foods that are covered under the SNAP regulation guidelines.
Who is eligible?
3SquaresVT is an entitlement program, meaning anyone who is eligible can receive benefits.
Eligibility is based on household size, medical cost, housing cost, and income, and how much they are allotted depends on their income. The minimum a person can receive is $16.00 per month; the maximum per person is $194.00 monthly. For a household of two people, the maximum they can receive in total is $355.00.
Many Vermonters who are eligible do not apply because they think they would be taking away from those who are more deserving and in need, or that there is a stigma that comes along with receiving benefits; that is not the case. Anyone eligible will receive benefits, and Age Well staff can help you determine if you’re eligible!
“There is an application that you can complete to determine whether or not you are eligible for a benefit based on your household size, your income, housing expenses, and medical expenses”, says Paula Fitzpatrick, Community Health Worker Team Lead with Age Well. She encourages all who think they are eligible to apply. “It helps our farms and our small general stores – it keeps them open.
The more federal money we can bring in to the state of Vermont, the more help the Vermont economy gets as a whole.”
How have things changed during COVID-19?
From March until June, everyone who had benefits was brought up to the maximum amount: one person received $194.00 and two people received $355.00 each month. These benefits might extend into further months, but as of now, the program is being reviewed month to month.
The benefits application process has changed slightly during COVID-19. Previously, candidates were required to see their doctor in person to have the medial portion of the 3SquaresVT application signed, which proves a patient’s need for any over-the-counter medical expenses. DCF is no longer requiring doctors’ signatures at this time.
Age Well also had to make adjustments for their clients during this period. “At Age Well, there is a new form we can have the client sign, which allows us to communicate with DCF over the phone, so we’ve now found ways to help streamline this while working remotely.” In Paula’s words, they had to figure out how to do everything over the phone to follow state guidelines.
Age Well and 3SquaresVT are still working diligently to help those in need during these trying times.
If you are interested in learning more about 3SquaresVT and seeing if you are eligible, call the Helpline at 1-800-642-5119.