JOPLIN, Mo. — When you’re living on a fixed income, it can be a challenge to put enough food on the table, especially when food prices keep increasing. However, financial help is available for many Missouri seniors, but many may not know about it.

There’s a good chance that at least some of the people in the Joplin Senior Center, and millions of people their age across the Show-Me State, qualify for food benefits, but for one reason or another aren’t getting them.

“Less than 50% of eligible seniors are actually taking part in the SNAP Program so a good majority of the seniors who would be eligible based on their income and other resources are not using this program so those that that really need it, aren’t using it,” said Christine Woody, Empower Missouri.

And with the cost of food skyrocketing in the last two years, Christine Woody, with Empower Missouri says that can make a huge difference in a senior’s health and well-being.

“Being involved with the SNAP program can be life changing for senior citizens, I mean there’s research that shows that having adequate nutrition and adequate access to fruits and vegetables and healthy foods can help with individuals health outcomes, helps keep them in their homes, keeps them out of the hospital,” Woody added.

So why aren’t more taking advantage of the program? In some cases, Woody says some don’t know it exists, with others, there’s a stigma still attached to asking for forms of public assistance, and finally, applying for it is done over the internet, which Jennifer Shotwell, with the Area Agency on Aging, says is intimidating for many seniors.

“With the SNAP process, there are some documents that you need to provide. A lot of seniors are a little hesitant using the technology so they end up with telephone calls and long wait times but we could certainly help them out if they stop by our office,” said Jennifer Shotwell, C.E.O., Region 10 Area Agency on Aging.