How the Food Bank’s SNAP Outreach Team is helping alleviate hunger in Omaha

40 Faces of 40 Years OneWorld, Anna Gudino and Joel Dougherty

On a Friday morning, Yesenia Acevedo—a SNAP Outreach Specialist (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for the Food Bank—is stationed at a desk in the waiting room of OneWorld, a Community Health Center in Omaha that provides services to anyone, regardless of economic or insurance status.

A partnership between the two nonprofits was developed ten years ago, as both organizations work to improve the overall health and well-being of those in need. The collaboration provides OneWorld patients access to the Food Bank’s SNAP Outreach team five days a week (four days in-person, and one virtually). OneWorld refers patients to the SNAP Outreach Team, which helps them understand and apply for SNAP benefits when eligible, providing critical support to those struggling to make ends meet.

“We thought about what we could do outside of physical and mental health to help our community, and one of our answers was food security,” says One World’s Chief Operating Officer, Joel Dougherty. “We encounter a lot of people every day and within those interactions, needs are uncovered. Every patient is screened and assessed for program eligibility. Since we’re already looking at patients’ income information, it was a natural fit to also screen for eligibility for SNAP benefits.”

SNAP Outreach specialists assist—on average—140 OneWorld patients every month. According to Yesenia, inflation has caused a significant increase in the number of patients seeking assistance. “People tell me that even with the job they have, they need more food. Everything is going up except the pay grade.”

While neighbors grapple with the rising cost of everyday essentials, many simply can’t wait up to 45 days to learn if they qualify for SNAP benefits. That’s when SNAP Specialists help individuals get food assistance immediately—by connecting them with a food pantry, mobile pantry, or meal provider. With nearly 550 Network Partners across 93 counties, the Food Bank team works to find nearby resources that meet the needs of each patient.

Employees at OneWorld believe the Food Bank’s holistic approach has been a lifesaver to their patients. “Many of our patients struggle with transportation, so having the Food Bank here is like a one-stop shop, especially for those who are new to Nebraska and don’t know where they can go for help,” says Anna Gudino, Performance Improvement Specialist.

Leaders at OneWorld are beyond grateful for the Food Bank’s partnership and their services. It allows their clients to receive full-service food assistance, providing them with ample opportunity to improve their overall health through nutritional food—supporting OneWorld’s mission at the same time.

“Without the Food Bank, so many more of our patient interactions would fall into the frustrating column because we wouldn’t have an outlet. We’re so lucky they exist and that they go about their work in a holistic way that’s designed to meet everyone’s needs. And when partnerships—such as this one—are done well, they are so much more rewarding for everyone involved,” says Joel.