Reflections on Feeding America’s ACPN Conference
As a SNAP Outreach Worker for the Iowa Food Bank Association it was my pleasure to attend the 2013 Agency Capacity, Programs and Nutrition Learning Conference. Luckily, the Conference was located in downtown Chicago with nearly 450 food bank representatives from across the nation in attendance. I was able to learn so many great lessons about being a SNAP Outreach Worker, how to improve our current program and what the future of outreach could look like.
The first day my partner and I were able to attend a SNAP Outreach session which allowed us to share our program model with other state outreach representatives. This opportunity also allowed us to take notes on ways to improve our methods. For example, we found that one of the ways we can better prepare our clients to successfully complete the SNAP application process is to provide them with a list of materials DHS might request. This will allow clients to take more time preparing this paperwork so they don’t feel rushed and are unable to complete the process.
On the second day we were able to attend a learning session hosted by the SNAP Capacity Institute which is a project spearheaded by Feeding America to bring together Outreach Workers from across the nation to develop new and innovative ways to effectively implement SNAP Outreach programs. During the session the Capacity Institute participants presented the findings from their first year of implementing new programs. These creative ideas helped spark a lively discussion which helped us all build on our current programs and look to the future in the hopes of improving all of our methods to maximize effectiveness.
One of the most important things that I learned while attending the ACPN Conference was to remember that every person that we help is a person and not just a number. After we complete their application they become a part of a system which makes them a number in a long line of numbers requesting help. From the first moment we engage our clients to the last moment we interact with them it is my challenge as a SNAP Outreach Worker to always remember that they are a person and not just a number. No matter how similar their story may be, it is not just another story but a person’s life that I am trying to impact for the better.
Altogether, the ACPN Conference provided me with the opportunity to sit back and reflect on the work that I do every day. I learned so much from my colleagues and the SNAP Capacity Institute has given me so many new and creative ideas to help increase the effectiveness of SNAP Outreach in Iowa. As a result, it is with a new sense of understanding and hope that I undertake my daily efforts in the fight to end hunger.