The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), often called “the senior box program”, serves 619,000 low-income seniors with incomes of less than 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (approximately $15,301 for a senior living alone). CSFP helps vulnerable seniors from having to choose between food and other basic needs.
Feeding America serves more than half a million seniors (age 60 and older) through the CSFP program. More than half of Feeding America network food banks participate in CSFP, the largest hunger-relief program for seniors in our network.
For participating seniors, CSFP provides more than just food and nourishment, it also helps to combat the poor health conditions often found in those seniors who are experiencing food insecurity and at risk of hunger. CSFP food packages, specifically designed to supplement needed sources of nutrients typically lacking in participants’ diets, can play an important role in combatting the health consequences of senior hunger and can ultimately help seniors avoid costly hospitalizations and nursing home placements.
USDA Commodities and CSFP
CSFP is a discretionary program funded each year through the federal appropriations process so the program may only serve as many eligible participants as funding allows. CSFP provides USDA commodities and administrative funds to States, which in turn store and transport the food to local agencies for distribution to low-income clients. CSFP is the only USDA nutrition program that provides monthly food assistance specially targeted at low-income seniors. The $27 cost to USDA of providing commodities results in a monthly food package with an average retail value of $50.
While most participants either pick up their monthly CSFP food package at a food bank or other local sponsor or have a designee who is authorized to pick up their food package pick it up for them, some communities deliver the food package directly to the participant’s home, an important program feature for seniors with limited mobility.
[i] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Tentative CSFP Caseload and Administrative Funding 2013. December 2012. https://www.fns.usda.gov/csfp/commodity-supplemental-food-program