November 1, 2022, Nashville, Tenn.—United Ways of Tennessee (UWTN) is pleased to launch Tennessee Benefit Kitchen. Every year, 103 million Americans leave $80 billion in public benefits unclaimed. United Way is committed to ensuring that struggling families in our state are aware of the benefits for which they qualify and know how to apply for them. In response, we are launching Tennessee Benefit Kitchen, a free screener that all Tennesseans can use to determine eligibility for several tax credits and many federal, state and local public benefits—and to access the application sites to apply for those for which they qualify.
Tennessee residents simply text “Benefits” to 211-211, and they receive a screener that takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. Once completed, they immediately receive notice of tax credits and benefits for which they are eligible, along with the links to apply to each benefit. The tax credits and benefits covered in the screener currently include:
- Food Stamps (SNAP)
- Cash Assistance (TANF)
- Women Infants and Children (WIC)
- Head Start
- School Meals
- Child Care Assistance
- TennCare (Medicaid, for adults and children)
- ACA (Affordable Care Act for adults and children)
- CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program)
- County Medical Services
- Home Energy Assistance (HEAP)
- Child Tax Credit
- Childcare Tax Credit
- Earned Income Tax Credit
“United Way is excited about this initiative to support households that are struggling with basic necessities. It is a powerful tool to help families thrive financially and obtain available resources to sustain their needs and improve their lives,” said Mary Graham, president of UWTN. “We know many Tennesseans are not aware of all the benefits available to them, let alone how and where to apply. This service makes it easier for them, improving the quality of life throughout our communities.
In areas where United Way or its partners provide financial empowerment centers, financial counseling and related services, staff will help Tennessee residents complete the screening on a web application of Benefit Kitchen, which is translatable into many languages. Where such services are in place, the web-based, counselor-supported version enables United Way and its partner agencies to work with clients not only on completing the screener, but also on completing the applications for benefits. It also allows them to identify and prepare clients for budget changes that impact benefit eligibility, known as benefit cliffs and curves.
“United Way works to support both Tennesseans living in poverty, as well as ALICE households—ALICE stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained, Employed. These households are often our essential workers, but they’re still having a hard time making ends meet. We are offering Tennessee Benefit Kitchen so those in our state can receive the unclaimed benefits they have earned,” said Matt Marshall, UWTN board chair.
About United Ways of Tennessee
United Ways of Tennessee (UWTN) is the association of 30 United Ways in our state, coming together for collective action to fight for the health, education, and financial stability of everyone living in our state. As Tennessee’s leading community solutions provider, we are the driving force behind many initiatives that provide solutions to the most critical needs. To learn more, link here: About Us | United Ways of Tennessee (uwtn.org)
About Tennessee ALICE
ALICE is deep research, shining a light on the challenges ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households face. UWTN and its member local United Ways use this cost of living data to find collaborative solutions to our communities’ biggest problems. Equipped with this data, we convene, advocate, and innovate to promote financial stability. Our next ALICE highlights report focuses on Veterans and will be released in November of 2022, and our next “full” ALICE report will be released by close of April 2023. Links for our two other highlight reports released this year can be found here: ALICE in Focus on Children | United Ways of Tennessee (uwtn.org) and here: ALICE in Focus on People with Disabilities | United Ways of Tennessee (uwtn.org).
About Benefit Kitchen
Benefit Kitchen builds benefit eligibility tools that help nonprofit agencies connect low-income families to federal, state and local benefits. To learn more, link here: http://benefitkitchen.com
About United Way of East TN Highlands
Serving Washington, Carter, Johnson and Southern Sullivan Counties, our goal is to break the cycle of poverty by uniting people and resources to strengthen the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. Our vision is to be a community united to empower every person and organization to reach their full potential and achieve more.