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WIC and SNAP programs say they have more help to give Alaskans

Farmers markets across the state provide groceries to WIC and SNAP recipients.
Farmers markets across the state provide groceries to WIC and SNAP recipients.(ktuu)
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 5:42 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Women, Infants and Children and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance programs said they have more help to give Alaskans.

Both reported an increase in services in March and April but have seen those numbers drop in recent months.

“We had a boost in numbers,” said Christine Pagano, the WIC program manager at the Anchorage Health Department. “And then in June and July, it looks like we’ve had a dip in people who are applying for the program and participating. It might have to do with people receiving federal unemployment and just feeling a little more financially secure having those financial resources coming into their family.”

SNAP in Alaska has recorded a similar pattern. According to Cara Durr, the director of public engagement for the Food Bank of Alaska, the SNAP outreach team saw a 587 percent increase in SNAP applications in April 2020 compared to April 2019. May and June saw a decrease even though they still considered it a busy time.

Both programs said there’s room to help more people.

“We know that there are a lot more people out there who are eligible for services, and we know that we’re just not reaching everyone who is potentially eligible for the program,” Pagano said.

“A big focus of our program is to do face to face nutrition education,” said Cheryl Antenucci, a SNAP ed nutrition educator with the Anchorage Health Department. “We’re just we’re looking at ways to do that remotely so that we can still reach the SNAP-eligible people that we’re focused our focus is to reach. So we’re working right now to just try and find ways to reach people through distance delivery, nutrition education.”

Congressman Don Young recently introduced the INFANT Act to remove the rule that limits the number of foods purchased under WIC.

“The INFANT Act is currently awaiting review by the House Committee on Education and Labor,” said Young’s press secretary, Zack Brown. “Congressman Young has always been supportive of initiatives that help Alaska’s working families feed their children, which is an especially urgent issue in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For more information on SNAP benefits, email snap@foodbankofalaska.org, text SNAP to (907) 891-8913 or call (907) 222-3119.

For more information on WIC, visit their website.

Both programs offer virtual assistance.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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