The new Cleveland Foodbank Help Center does more than give families a few meals. The new center will assist callers from six counties apply for SNAP benefits (commonly known as food stamps), medical assistance and about 20 other programs. Help Specialists also direct callers to nearby food pantries and services.
There are about 50,000 people in the Foodbank’s service area who are eligible for the government food assistance program that do not apply. That’s a number the Help Specialists in the Foodbank’s Help Center hope to decrease.
“This program is really important because there are a lot of people in need that have never been in need before,” said Jamie Sullivan, the Cleveland Foodbank’s manager of benefits outreach. “People are able to apply on their own terms.”
Counselors take callers through the process of applying for assistance through the Ohio Benefit Bank. Calls take about 15 minutes. Individuals making less than $1,200 per month may be eligible for assistance; a family of three with an income of up to $2069 a month could be eligible.