HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – This week, the Wolf Administration is raising awareness about food assistance programs for seniors.
More than 300,000 Pennsylvanians are eligible to receive food through the USDA Commodity Supplemental-Food Program, now more commonly known as the Senior Food Box Program in the commonwealth. In May 2021, only 28,000 seniors were registered for the program. One year later, that number increased thanks to a re-launch of the program, but Gov. Wolf wants to ensure more seniors take advantage of the new and improved program.
“Even when we had the food, we were not getting it into the hands of the people that needed it. So, we relaunched the program. We made it easier for older adults who need help to sign up and established a partnership with DoorDash, a private sector group, to help them help these folks who needed it,” said Governor Tom Wolf (D-Pa).
Within the last year, the program was essentially re-branded to improve access with several changes like the partnership with the food delivery service, DoorDash, improvements to the income verification process, as well as removing other barriers. Officials say several of these improvements over the last year led to a 20 percent increase of those enrolled in the program.
“It is all about access and making more food accessible to our seniors who are hungry and worried about where that next meal is coming from,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.
The administration’s goal is to ensure healthy food is more accessible to older adults like Christopher Dennis, without having to choose between meals and things like medication or bills.
“It’s awesome and I hope it continues. It’s a beautiful thing,” said Dennis. “There’re a lot of people in need. Nowadays, it’s so hard to find help when you need it,” he added.
“The point is, no one should have to choose between eating or paying the other bills they have on rent, heat, lights, medications,” said Gov. Wolf. “This important program provides critical support to older Pennsylvanians. It helps older Pennsylvanians with fewer means make ends meet and stay in their homes,” said Gov. Wolf.
Raising awareness for the Senior Food Box Program is just one of the many goals during the month of September, which is Hunger Action Month.
“No one should ever go hungry in Pennsylvania, so please reach out if you, or someone you know needs nutritional support,” said Department of Aging Secretary Robert Torres.
Just last week, the Wolf Administration announced the Universal Free Breakfast Program which is set to provide breakfasts to 1.7 million Pennsylvania school students.
Eligible participants for the Senior Food Box Program include low-income individuals who are at least 60 years-old and whose household income is at or below 130 percent of the U.S. poverty level.
To see the 2022 Department of Aging booklet on Benefits and Rights of Older Pennsylvanians, you can find it here. The booklet can also be obtained from your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or from the office of your local state legislator. You can find your local state representative and state senator here.
For additional information and resources on the Senior Food Box Program, you can find it here.
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