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"Fighting hunger has been a top priority for Frances and me from day one," said Gov. Wolf. "I'm incredibly proud of the work that the departments of Agriculture and Aging have done to revitalize this program that ensures our older Pennsylvanians don't have to choose between paying for utilities or putting food on the table."
In early 2021, Pennsylvania was at risk of having its approved caseload for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program—now more favorably coined as the Senior Food Box Program—decreased as the program was underutilized by Pennsylvania's eligible population of older adults. More than 300,000 Pennsylvanians are eligible to receive food through the program, but as of May 2021 only 28,000 were taking advantage of the opportunity.
Noting that seniors often face barriers to access for food assistance programs because of issues such as transportation, mobility, or technology, the Department of Agriculture, which administers the program in partnership with Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, set to work to improve awareness and accessibility for the program.
"One hungry older Pennsylvanian is one too many. Through valued partnerships, we're working towards an ultimate goal of eliminating hunger," said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. "And I'm proud to say, we're making progress for our seniors. The Senior Food Box Program is now more accessible thanks to a rebranding and new partnerships. I hope that with easier access to reliable food on the table, we're taking stress off the table."
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Since May 2021, the Department of Agriculture has:
- Renamed the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to the Senior Food Box Program to better relate to its beneficiaries.
- Removed income verification requirements and transitioned to a self-declaration of eligibility.
- Hosted a listening session with First Lady Frances Wolf to hear first-hand experiences and recommendations for program improvements from those already receiving the box.
- Partnered with DoorDash to offer seniors the opportunity to have their monthly food box delivered to their door for free. DoorDash delivery is now available in 15 counties including Bucks, Columbia, Dauphin, Erie, Fayette, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Luzerne, Montgomery, Montour, Philadelphia, Washington, Westmoreland and York.
- Partnered with the Department of Aging and the PACE Prescription Assistance Program call center to proactively contact and enroll eligible seniors in the program. To date, PACE has processed more than 20,000 applications.
"Access to nutritional foods for older adults is critical to help support their health, well-being and independence. The Department of Aging's partnership with the Department of Agriculture is utilizing the PACE Program's call center operation and a facilitated application process that make it easy for seniors who are enrolled in PACE to take advantage of other programs for which they may also be eligible, like the Senior Food Box," said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. "People call PACE because they know they get to talk with someone who cares and who will help them. By working together with our state and community partners, we are helping more older adults overcome challenges with food insecurity and healthy eating."
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Since efforts began to reinvigorate the Senior Food Box Program in May 2021, distribution has increased by more than 20%.
Gov. Wolf has served for two terms as a leader consistently at work for the people of Pennsylvania. Learn more about how his Priorities for Pennsylvania have fueled the commonwealth's comeback, leaving Pennsylvania in a much better place than when he arrived.
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