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(HOUSTON, TX) 6.11.10 – Harris County now has a federally-funded program – the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) – that provides a monthly box of free food for thousands of income-eligible seniors and other individuals. Other communities in Texas have had the program for several years. CSFP, operated locally by the Houston Food Bank and funded by the US Department of Agriculture through the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, will provide food for 7,800 senior citizens, pregnant women, postpartum mothers, infants, and children. Program participants receive a free monthly box of food items to help supplement their nutritional needs. Participants must be signed up by July 9.
In June 2006, CSFP funding for a six-month period was awarded by the government to the Houston Food Bank following the influx of Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Request for funding of the program at an increased level for Harris County residents for the following year was made but not granted. President Obama, however, has reinstated the program and requested that all areas be allotted funding at the requested increased levels. This is a major “win” for the Houston Food Bank on behalf of the residents in need, but it comes with a “use it or lose it” stipulation.
“Harris County has been allotted 7,800 ‘slots’ for residents to receive the CSFP monthly food boxes, and we have a short time period in which to sign up individuals. This food is desperately needed by area residents, and it could be partially re-allocated elsewhere in the state if we don’t make our July 9 enrollment deadline,” says Brian Greene, president/CEO of the Houston Food Bank. “It is critical that the message about this much-needed assistance reach our residents.”
Enrollment for the program is easy, and done through Houston Food Bank agencies. Upcoming “intake” dates for application are as follows:
Those eligible for the program include income-eligible people age 60 and older; income-eligible women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and do not receive WIC benefits; income-eligible women who are under one year postpartum and do not receive WIC benefits; and infants/children under age six whose mothers do not receive WIC benefits. All eligible participants must live within Harris County and meet governmental guidelines. The CSFP is an equal opportunity provider. Individuals do not have to be a U.S. citizen to be eligible.
To enroll, individuals need to bring with them picture identification (driver’s license or state ID), proof of household income, proof of birth and, where applicable, proof of birth of infant.
Once a month beginning in July 2010, program enrollees will receive a USDA Commodity Food Box. Each box contains two pounds of commodity cheese, in addition to various nutritionally balanced food choices, including proteins like chili, beef stew, tuna or peanut butter; starches such as pasta and rice; juice; canned fruits and vegetables; milk (dry/evaporated); and cereal.
Kathy Lipman, Houston Food Bank’s CSFP coordinator, emphasizes the importance of standing up and being counted. “It is critical that eligible residents in need enroll in the program, not just for themselves, but for others in our area who need this assistance. There should be no shame or hesitation to enroll to receive the assistance that is needed.”
For more information about CSFP or the Houston Food Bank, visit HoustonFoodBank.org