Waiting list for CSFP benefits up 57% over last year
The news keeps getting worse on the anti-hunger front.
Demand for a key anti-hunger program that serves low-income and homebound senior citizens continues to grow, with the number of individuals awaiting benefits now more than double what it was at this time last year, new figures show.
At the end of October, 3,590 Pennsylvanians were on the waiting list for the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides life-sustaining meal deliveries and nutrition services each month to older residents. By comparison, there were 1,570 individuals on the waiting list in 2011 and 1,528 on the list last year.
CSFP is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by state offices; local nonprofit agencies, counties and hospitals; and thousands of volunteers across the country. Hunger-Free Pennsylvania administers CSFP in the commonwealth. Last year, the anti-hunger organization was able to provide 34,119 seniors with a monthly food package.
Food banks and anti-hunger organizations are bracing for a bad year.
On Nov. 1, higher benefit allocations expired for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly called “food stamps.” Those increases were part of the 2009 federal stimulus bill to help families affected by the economic slowdown. In Pennsylvania, 1.8 million residents, including 740,000 children, are expected to lose some of their food-aid benefits, between $29 and $36 on average each month.
These cuts come on top of reductions in funding for the State Food Purchase Program (SFPP), one of the commonwealth’s most important tools in the fight against hunger. SFPP, which is administered by the state Department of Agriculture, funding has remained stagnant over the last several years.
The state’s 2013-14 budget allocated $17.438 million to SFPP. That’s a drop of more than 7 percent since the onset of the recession in 2006, when the program received $18.75 million annually. If SFPP funding simply kept pace with food prices, the program would need $23.8 million to break even.
Let’s hope for better days ahead.
RELEASE: Demand for Anti-Hunger Programs Continues to Rise
November 7, 2013