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  • Writer's pictureHunger-Free Pennsylvania

Federal Budget Would Eliminate CSFP

Federal Budget Would Eliminate CSFP

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a critical commodity program that leverages government buying power to provide nutritious food packages to more than 700,000 low-income seniors each month nationally --- including more than 40,000 seniors spread across every county in Pennsylvania.

CSFP, largely a collaboration between states, the federal government and private non-profits, works to improve the health of low-income elderly individuals at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) foods. The program is open to low-income seniors with annual incomes of less than 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, or less than $15,000 a year for a senior citizen living alone.

It’s not much, but for seniors and others in need, it can mean all the difference in the world.

With CSFP, some of the commonwealth’s most vulnerable citizens can supplement their diets with nutritious U.S. Department of Agriculture foods and avoid compromising their health and well-being.

But, that would all change if President Donald Trump’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2019 is adopted. His budget plan calls for full elimination of CSFP funding. While it’s early in the budget process, it’s never too early for advocates like you to start contacting your congressmen and senators to tell them you oppose these cuts.

Click HERE to find your legislators and contact your federal elected leaders.

Food insecurity among seniors contributes to malnutrition, which exacerbates disease, increases disability, decreases resistance to infection and extends hospital stays. Malnutrition increases care-giving demands and inflates health-care expenditures associated with premature or extended hospital or nursing home stays, according to research.

CSFP is proven and effective. It 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. Started in 1969, CSFP was the nation’s first food assistance effort with monthly food packages designed to provide protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.

Now, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the program, all of that is at risk.

A CSFP food box costs just $22 but provides $50 in value to those in need and incalculable benefits to our commonwealth in terms of keeping resident healthy and safe.

It doesn’t make sense to target a program that costs so little and helps so many by providing preventative care in the form of healthy, balanced meals. The onus for caring for these at-risk residents --- many of them seniors --- won’t go away; it will simply shift to states and charitable food organizations that already are strained to do too much with too little.

Contact your congressmen and senators. Make sure they reject the administration’s proposal and take a stand to secure funding for CSFP.

The following chart demonstrates that, no matter the numbers break down, seniors participating in CSFP in Pennsylvania have income that is WAY below the maximum eligibility requirement of $1,316 per month. In fact, by eliminating the program, thus requiring seniors to spend on average $50 more a month on food, their disposable income is now less than half of the maximum requirement to be eligible.

Chart: Senior Income by County

Figure 1: A random sampling of 2,481 from a data base of over 36,000 was selected. The confidence level of the data was determined to be 99 percent with a margin of error at */- 2.5 percent.

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