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Seniors wanted for food program

By COLLEEN BOYLE
The Intelligencer

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program offers a 35-pound box of nonperishable food each month.

For Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger relief organization, the cost of food is one thing that low-income senior citizens should not have to worry about.

The organization is sponsoring the distribution of senior food boxes through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. Seniors who qualify in the Delaware Valley will receive a 35-pound box of nonperishable food each month. The boxes include items such as canned meat and juice as well as a block of fresh cheese.

Philabundance receives donations from both national and local food manufacturers and is supported by contributions from individuals, businesses and foundations. In 2009, it provided meals for 3,623 seniors in the area and hopes to distribute 1.2 million pounds of food to the greater Philadelphia area through this program.

“It’s a shameful thing about our society the way that senior citizens are kind of forgotten about,” said Kelly Hile, director of direct service for Philabundance. “It’s one of the most vulnerable populations for food insecurity.”

Hile said that the program’s biggest need in Bucks County is securing locations where seniors can pick up their boxes each month.

The Central Bucks Senior Activity Center is one such location where seniors can sign up for the program and pick up their food boxes. The sign-up procedure is quick, said the center’s assistant manager, Irvin Thompson. Seniors need only to know the last four digits of their Social Security number and to bring proof of income, such as a bank statement. In addition, the center’s staff members can assist seniors in carrying the cumbersome boxes to their cars.

“Anybody who’s in a situation where they’re living by themselves and only living on Social Security may very well qualify for this, and it would really help them,” Thompson said.

One senior who has been using the program for about three years said she finds it helpful. “It’s a wonderful thing,” she said. “I live in an apartment, and they bring the box almost to the door.” She urges other seniors to take advantage of the program as well because it has such a positive impact.

Thompson, who has only signed up one senior so far, said many who qualify may let embarrassment keep them from accepting assistance. However, he said he would like to sign up 25 more people for the program so that they can start taking advantage of its services.

“This really is a godsend,” he said.

Colleen Boyle can be reached at 215-345-3066 or cboyle@phillyBurbs.com.

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