The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) falls within the Nutrition title of the Farm Bill. It provides participtes, primarily elderly, with a 45-pound package of nutirionally balanced foods. Two wonderful South Dakota Bread for the World activists decided that they needed to learn more about this program, so they volunteered for a day with the Salvation Army, a local service agency that distributes CSFP. Below is their reflection on this experience and CSFP.
On April 12, we helped to deliver the commodity food boxes known as "Senior Boxes". The recipients were all smiles, every one. We asked Mr H if he would show us what was in the box. The sound he made as he lifted each item out seemed to be a combination gasp/ laugh /sigh, that made a sound expressing absolute delight, at each item, even the can of spinach. Another recipient told us, "On my Social Security check, this means whether I will make it through the month or not."
Another said she lives in a house old enough that the city is requiring upgrades according to city codes. So she has taken out two loans, one a HUD loan and one personal loan. From her fixed income of $827, she pays on these loans and then alternates each month paying the light bill and the water bill.
All over South Dakota, these 30-pound boxes are very popular with low-income seniors, both rural and city people. Some rural food pantries open only on days "Senior Boxes" are available. Many of these seniors do not receive food stamps. The boxes seem to have less stigma. When we picked up the boxes at the Sioux Falls Salvation Army, no parking places were to be had, so many people had come to pick up their food. Inmates were helping load the boxes into cars. (The folks we delivered to were surprised that women were delivering, because of the weight of the boxes.)
President Bush's budget zeroes out the funding for this program. But it should be saved. South Dakota gets 3000 of these commodity food boxes each month & could use more, not fewer.
By supporting Bread for the World's efforts to broadly reform the Farm Bill we can improve programs like Food Stamps and CSFP.
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