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Supplementing to Survive

Helping Seniors Make Ends Meet

With an income of $800 each month, Lisa Morrill struggles to cover her expenses. At 76, she looks for ways to cut costs and accesses whatever assistance is available, “I only have a telephone,” she says, “no cable, no internet.”

She was very interested when she heard about the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides a box of commodity food each month to qualified candidates over 60. CSFP is federally-funded, but administered by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, which makes sure the boxes are packed and delivered to food pantries and senior homes throughout the state.

For Lisa, who lives in West Warwick and visits the Pilgrim Senior Center, the box  frees up her SNAP benefits so she can purchase meat. She enjoys steak tips to go along with the box’s rice. “It used to be easier. Now a small piece of beef will cost you $12 or $13,” she sighs. Without the CSFP box, Lisa says she’d rely more on soup. “I’d be out of food stamps faster.”

She uses what she does to get the best she can. Tuna fish is used to make sandwiches, cereal is mixed with self-purchased raisin bran. Also in the box are juices, cheese, canned fruit and vegetables, pasta, peanut butter and cheese.

Says Lindsay Sgambato, the Food Bank’s Federal Programs Manager, “CSFP doesn’t solve the problem of food insecurity for seniors, but it most definitely helps. The box is designed to supplement a senior’s diet in that it provides basic and nutritious food items to participants. Used in combination with other resources, like SNAP and visiting a local food pantry, the box ensures that they have a variety of healthy food choices that includes both shelf stable and fresh items.”

Lisa says she only found out about the CSFP box a few months ago, but she is glad to have it. “What more could you want?”