Mounting Fears in the Golden Years
If you’re like me, you may be just tuning out the news nowadays when they talk about budget cuts and the economy. I’m an NPR junkie, and yet I’ve found myself turning the radio dial to find some mindless music more often than not when the talk turns to Washington, arguing, votes, cuts, debates, and politics in general. It all just seems like the same story.
There is one thing my ears do perk up for, however, and that is talk about cutting funding for social services, and specifically for CSFP – the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. CSFP is a federal program that provides monthly nutritious boxes of food to eligible children, pre- and post-partum mothers, and low-income seniors. Philabundance provides CSFP boxes to 9,176 seniors in Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, and Philadelphia counties.
Currently, we pack the USDA-supplied food into 9,176 boxes every month. Even though we serve 9,176 seniors each month, we still have 2,286 additional seniors on our wait list. Each of those seniors has been pre-screened and is eligible to receive a box, we just don’t have any boxes to give to them.
And now Congress is talking about cutting $38 million from CSFP funding, a 22% reduction. Statewide, this would mean 7,610 seniors currently receiving a monthly food box would be cut off. For our service area, 1,835 seniors would be dropped off the active list and added to our already large waiting list.
A few months ago, I asked our partner agencies, who distribute the boxes directly to the seniors, to ask their seniors what receiving the box means to them. Here are a couple of responses we received.
Without food I can’t take my medication and without my medication, I don’t know where my health will stand. How am I supposed to choose between the two? Receiving my monthly box allows me to have both so I don’t have to make these types of decisions. – Anonymous
My fixed income barely covers my living expenses so most times I don’t know how I’ll be able to afford groceries, especially since food is so expensive these days. Thanks to my monthly box, I don’t need to spend as much on food every month. -Anonymous
The food we receive goes such a long way for us. I’m able to prepare meals that last me days at a time while also having quality food to choose from. Means so much to us to have this. – Anonymous
I am so thankful for the box of food I receive every month. Bless the people that donated, bless the people that worked to get the donations, bless all that sorted and packed all the boxes, and bless the angel that delivered my food. Thank you and each and every one of you are in my prayers! – Anonymous
When I read these, and then listen to the arguing on the radio about the Federal Budget, I can’t help but ask myself, how am I going to tell 1,835 of my seniors that there’s no more food available for them?