ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Second Harvest Community Food Bank has announced it will start a new Senior Box food program available to the distribution sites who have been distributing the USDA Commodity Supplemental Food Program boxes to eligible seniors.
On Aug. 11, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Bureau of Community Food and Nutrition Assistance notified Second Harvest that it would not be renewing the contract for the program.
“We were very disappointed by this decision, but understand the state’s reasoning for their decision,” said Chad Higdon, Chief Executive Officer of Second Harvest Community Food Bank. “Our mission is to provide nourishment and hope to the hungry while engaging and empowering the region in the fight to end hunger. This is definitely a setback for our organization, but we will work hard to find solutions to continue to serve seniors in need.”
Higdon told The Forum on Wednesday, that with the new program, Second Harvest hopes to provide as little disruption as possible for seniors receiving the food boxes.
Due to the loss of the product and about $77,000 annually in administration revenue for the program, Second Harvest might not be able to include as much food, however, the menu may become broader.
“A lot of the seniors will still have access to the food pantries as well as get the senior boxes that we provide at the pantries and distribution sites (like The Ministry Center),” he said. “We want to support them as best we can.”
Second Harvest plans to distribute approximately 1,000 food boxes to seniors in need each month throughout the region — the same number provided through the USDA program. Now, however, the nonprofit will have fewer restrictions regarding menu and food types.
The Ministry Center distributes 42 senior boxes to Nodaway County residents, according to Blake Haynes, communications coordinator at Second Harvest.
“Our goal is to make sure individuals in need have the support and resources they need from Second Harvest,” said Higdon.
According to a news release, within the 15 Missouri counties that Second Harvest provides services in — Nodaway County is one of them — an estimated 9.7 percent of seniors live below poverty, per information from the Missouri Hunger Atlas released most recently in 2016 by the University of Missouri interdisciplinary Center for Food Security.
“I am very proud of my team and the steps we have taken to provide resources to food insecure seniors,” said Higdon, “With bringing the Senior Box program in-house we are able to continue to meet their needs.”
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