Senior Food Program Serves Those Most In Need
Every month, thousands of seniors throughout San Diego County receive a 40-pound box of shelf-stable food, often accompanied with fresh produce, through the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank’s Senior Food Program.
The program provides monthly supplemental food packages to income-eligible senior citizens aged 60 and older. The Food Bank administers the program and distributes USDA-provided food at more than 70 distribution sites every month in communities throughout San Diego County.
With the ending of the federal public health emergency, and a reduction of CalFresh benefits for many senior households, the Food Bank is encouraging those impacted seniors to join its Senior Food Program.
According to the California Department of Social Services, approximately 230,000 households in San Diego County are enrolled in the program, including many seniors who could lose their monthly CalFresh benefits.
“Some of the most vulnerable populations – like fixed-income seniors, who came to rely on that temporary increase in benefits over the last few years to pay for their groceries – are really struggling,” Vanessa Ruiz, the Food Bank’s Vice President of Operations shared with GB Magazine.
“The challenge our organization faces is that we do not truly know how many of those residents who are receiving CalFresh benefits are also already receiving supplemental help from the Food Bank. All we can do at this point is to ensure that our warehouse and our network of distribution partners are prepared with enough food should we suddenly be faced with an increase in demand – only time will tell.”
In anticipation of the reduction in CalFresh benefits, the Food Bank increased the amount of food the organization purchases on the wholesale food market to meet the additional demand for food assistance for those impacted by the reduction in benefits.
Currently, the San Diego Food Bank and its network of more than 500 nonprofit partners serves, on average, 400,000 people per month. Of that number, 15,000 are seniors who receive the 40-pound box of shelf-stable food.
Every week, Food Bank volunteers carefully pack the food boxes for the Senior Food Program at the Food Bank’s 90,000-square-foot-warehouse in Miramar. As boxes roll down the assembly line, volunteers fill each one with USDA-provided food including canned fruits, canned meats, canned vegetables, milk, pasta, pasta sauce, rice and cereal.
The Senior Food Program is currently enrolling new income-qualifying seniors aged 60 and older. Seniors in need of food assistance are encouraged to call 2-1-1 for more information or visit www.SanDiegoFoodBank.org/Seniors for details on how to join the program.