September is National Hunger Action Month reminding us that hunger is an issue that many citizens in Michigan face every day. Often when people think of “the hungry”, they think of young children. While it is true that many children face the challenge of hunger, a growing number of older adults are experiencing hunger as well. Many seniors who don’t have enough money to buy all the food they need, but many do apply for the programs, like food assistance, that are designed to help. MiCAFE (Michigan’s Coordinated Access to Food for the Elderly), a program of Elder Law of Michigan, helps connect seniors with the Food Assistance Benefits they need to eat well, stay healthy, active and independent as long as possible.
But how do we reach those who don’t know about these programs? How do we help with the complex applications that are required? MiCAFE continues to look for innovative ways to find older adults who are having a hard time making ends meet and not currently receiving all the benefits they are eligible to receive. MiCAFE is working to help more older adults than ever before and make sure they stay connected to ELM through two new initiatives.
The first initiative is a fun way to introduce ELM to individuals having a 59th or greater birthday! We are sending birthday cards with information about ELM’s range of services, highlighting the Food Assistance Program and how applying through MiCAFE is easy. With one phone call, they can get the ball rolling towards applying for a variety a benefits, and they don’t have to leave their dining room table!
Another new project coming out of MiCAFE is working towards creating ongoing relationships with the clients that we served in the past. We know that our clients are often eligible for more than one program. We are going back to previous clients to re-engage them and keep them connected with ELM so that we can be an ongoing resource. We are sending them a variety of information which we hope they will find helpful in making the best use of their Food Assistance Program benefits. Some of the information being sent will include educational materials on how to use seasonal items to reduce food costs, recipes for these items, Farmer’s Market/Double Up Food Bucks information, other Elder Law of Michigan programs, and products that reinforce healthy messages endorsed by the Michigan Fitness Foundation. Through these contacts, we hope to create a relationship in which the senior knows where to call if a need arises and feels comfortable and confident making the call.
We continue to look for ways to connect older adults with the many programs available at ELM. If you or someone you know is having a hard time making ends meet, call MiCAFE at 1-877-664-2233 to receive a screening to find out which benefits you might be eligible for. We can help you apply for these benefits right over the phone. Remember, September is National Hunger Action Month, and it only takes a few minutes to get started.
Kellie Baker is the MiCAFE Outreach Coordinator at Elder Law of Michigan. She joined Elder Law in April 2014. Kellie received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Central Michigan University.
Kellie comes to Elder Law with a background in coalition building, community collaboration and training. Prior to joining Elder Law, Kellie worked as the Prevention and Community Relations Manager at LifeWays, Community Mental Health in Jackson, Michigan where she advocated on behalf of individuals with substance use and mental health disorders.
Kellie is a Certified Mental Health First Aid Trainer for the National Council for Behavioral Health and an Approved Instructor for Critical Incident Stress Management for the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation.