Meet SNAP Engagement Coordinator, Kate Abram
Kate Abram knew from a very young age the importance of food security and sustainability — it’s what drew her to a career as a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) Community Engagement Coordinator at Second Harvest Heartland. She was inspired by the farmers she knew growing up in western Wisconsin.
“Patty and Mike run the CSA farm my family belonged to when I was growing up — the same one I belong to now,” shared Abram. “They’re the first people who introduced me to the important tool that food can be as a force for community, sustainability and bridge-building.”
And Abram and the SNAP Outreach Team at Second Harvest Heartland excel at bridge-building. That’s because SNAP outreach is about connecting people with the resources they need so hunger is no longer an issue for them.
“It’s our goal to work with organizations to raise awareness about the availability of SNAP benefits, including assisting with SNAP screening and SNAP applications, and post-application follow-up with counties,” said Second Harvest Heartland SNAP Outreach Manager, Betty Balan. “It’s vital for seniors, working families and others to know about every nutrition assistance opportunity. Unfortunately, many aren’t always aware of all their options, or there’s a language barrier. We want to remove the obstacles that are preventing them from getting the help they need.”
Abram and the SNAP Outreach Team are currently busy working on a series of videos in Spanish, Hmong, Karen and Somali. Each one-minute video explains the basics of the SNAP program and how to get in contact with the team at Second Harvest Heartland.
“The idea is that SNAP specialists and interns can play these videos on a tablet, or even a smartphone, when they are working with someone who doesn’t speak English,” she said. “This is especially impactful as many commonly spoken languages in Minnesota are not commonly written or read. I love being on a team that values equity and access and makes this kind of project a priority.”
While bilingual assistance has always been available at Second Harvest Heartland, this is the first-time the SNAP team has used videos to help communicate with non-English speaking families.
Abram said making connections is one of the main focuses of her job.
“Connecting with different teams and community partners is something I love to do,” she said “I don’t have a ‘typical’ day, which I also love. Some days, I’m out in the community. Some days, I’m mentoring interns and designing skill-building activities, and some days I’m working on projects to strategically integrate SNAP into different areas of work.”
When Abram isn’t busy connecting, she enjoys reading, gardening, and, especially, cooking.
“Every week I get a huge bag of fresh vegetables from the from the CSA,” she said. “I love finding new and creative ways to use the week’s bounty. My most recent success was learning that you can eat rhubarb in a savory dish. I roasted it with beets and served it over brown rice tossed with farm-fresh basil pesto and feta cheese. The roasted rhubarb ends up tasting like a preserved lemon peel — tart and sweet and delicious!”
Help us connect more people to the resources they need. By making a gift to Second Harvest Heartland, you are helping raise awareness of important programs like SNAP.
If you or someone you know needs help stretching their food budget to make ends meet, learn more about SNAP here.