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Raymond Williams was one of thousands of seniors in Idaho who aren't always certain where their next meal might come from. The Idaho Foodbank says 1 in 12 Idaho seniors are living with hunger. After living in Boise for 8 years, Williams has found that surviving off of social security checks can be near impossible for seniors.
“A lot of (seniors) work but they don’t make a lot of money because wages are so low (in Boise),” Williams said. “It’s pretty hard on some of them. They don’t have anybody to help them out, that can be pretty rough.”
Like many seniors in Boise, Williams and his wife often rely on the Idaho Foodbank.
And starting this month, Williams was one of Idaho’s 2,000 low income senior citizens to receive a food box from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program
“The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is a new program we’re implementing for low income seniors,” said Jackie Yarbrough, program director of the Idaho Food Bank. “These are seniors who don’t have the financial resources to have all the food in their home they need to have a healthy and nutritious balanced diet.”
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Idaho is one of seven states being appropriated into the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which currently provides food to 575 thousand seniors nationally. Bettina Briscoe, program specialist with the Idaho Commision on aging, said that the program is intended to keep seniors “independent and living at home for as long as possible.”
Although the majority of seniors receiving food boxes will be able to pick up their monthly installments at local branches of the Idaho Foodbank, food boxes will be delivered to the houses of seniors whose mobility is limited.
“Seniors are a very vulnerable population because sometimes they have mobility issues, and sometimes they do not qualify for (food stamps), so this is our additional foods that they have to argument their budget,” said Jesus Mendoza Jr., Regional Administrator with the United States Department of Agriculture.
Each food box contains rice or pasta, cereal, milk and several cans of vegetables, fruit and protein.
Additionally, cooking demonstrations utilizing the ingredients in the food boxes will be put on through the Cooking Matters
program. According to Major Robert Lloyd, Corps Officer of The Salvation Army, most seniors getting food boxes have limited cooking supplies making it pertinent that they understand how to best combine the ingredients in their food boxes to make a balanced diet.
“Sometimes what we receive and what we pass out to people wouldn’t seem like it could be made into a full meal. These classes teach people how to take the limited foods we have and turn it into a full meal,” Lloyd said. “Food security is a real issue for these folks.”