The Food and Nutrition Service of the US Department of Agriculture has developed three public service radio spots to encourage more eligible families to participate in the food stamps program.
The spots were produced as part of a public information campaign called "Food Stamps Make America Stronger." The radio ads answer some of the most frequently asked questions about program eligibility – concerns and uncertainties that may prevent eligible households from checking to find out if they qualify.
In Kentucky, 237,403 households and a total of 556,565 individuals currently receive $46.6 million in monthly food stamps assistance.
Kentucky has one of the highest food stamps participation rates in the nation.In 2003, about 84 percent of potentially eligible households in Kentucky received food stamps. Still, according to Eugene Foster, Undersecretary of Children and Family Services for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which administers the food stamps program in Kentucky, there still is room for improvement in Kentucky’s participation rate and there still are families who are eligible for assistance who aren’t receiving it.
"Some people think they’re not eligible for food stamps if they have a job or another member of the household is working, if they receive WIC (Women, Infants and Children nutrition program) benefits or are temporarily off work due to injuries and illness," Foster said. "These public service announcements help clarify that help with family nutrition is there for those who need it."
The three radio ads address specific issues identified as barriers to eligible families enrolling in the food stamps Program.
"Eat Smart. Play Hard" runs 30 seconds and features a busy mom describing the challenge of stretching a paycheck to feed her family and pay other necessary household expenses. "That’s where food stamps can lend a hand," she says. "They help me keep good nutritious food on my family’s table, even when times are tough. Find out today if you qualify."
"At the Market, " a one-minute spot, is set in a grocery store and listens in on a conversation between two co-workers, one of whom is on extended medical leave from work. The ad explains that even with a member of the household working, families may still qualify for food stamps. Some of the dialog in the ad includes this passage:
SAM: "Wow, it must be tough. Living on one paycheck can’t be easy."
ALICE: "It’s not but at least we’re eating healthy. I found out about food stamps from one of my neighbors. I applied and qualified. That’s really helped our family. "
SAM: "Food stamps? You qualified even with Jeffrey working?"
ALICE: "Sure did. You can still get food stamps if there is a worker in the household. It depends on what your family’s income is."
In "Advice from Mom," listeners learn that families receiving assistance through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program may also be eligible for food stamps. The one-minute spot features an exchange between a mother and her daughter, a new mother with a new job:
THERESA: "I’m already getting help from WIC. Can I get food stamps too?"
MOTHER: "I called the food stamp office today. And they said you can be on WIC and food stamps. Even with your job you still might qualify. It would certainly help until you're back on your feet."
THERESA: "I guess I should find out more because I want healthy foods for me and my baby. I’ll go home and call the food stamp office for an appointment. What was that number again?"
Foster said the goal of the public awareness campaign is to dispel some incorrect beliefs about food stamps and encourage low-income families to find out of they qualify and, if so, to enroll in the program as a means to improve their health and maintain a more stable quality of life.
At the conclusion of each announcement, listeners are urged to call to receive an information packet. The toll-free number is 1-800-221-5689.
"We hope these announcements get wide air play and that people call the number provided to find out if they are eligible," Foster said.
Radio stations may hear and download three public service announcements at