WHAT’S AT STAKE
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a federal nutrition program that provides food assistance to seniors (age 60 and older) with low incomes. The program is designed to help older adults access the food they need to maintain good health through monthly food packages filled with fruits and vegetables, meat and cheese, and other nutrition-packed foods to supplement their diets. These packages contain foods that provide nutrients such as protein, calcium and potassium, helping CSFP participants avoid and manage the physical and mental health conditions associated with food insecurity and nutrient deficiencies.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sources CSFP foods from U.S. growers and producers, which supports American agriculture.
In 2021, approximately 1 in 14 U.S. seniors experienced food insecurity. CSFP helps prevent many older adults from having to make impossible choices between food, medical care and other basic needs.
WHAT’S FEEDING AMERICA DOING?
In the 2023 Farm Bill, Feeding America is asking Congress to:
- Reauthorize CSFP.
- Exempt Medicare payments from the gross income calculation used to determine CSFP eligibility.
- Reduce the administrative burden for program participants and increase program efficiency by streamlining reporting requirements.
Feeding America is also urging Congress to adequately fund CSFP in the fiscal year 2024 appropriations legislation to, at a minimum, maintain the current CSFP caseload of 760,547 participants.
- Some seniors experience food insecurity at higher rates, including seniors who are Black or Hispanic, live with grandchildren, have lower incomes, and have disabilities.
- In 2021, approximately 10.3% of individuals age 65 and older had incomes below the federal poverty level ($12,880 for a household of one).
- In fiscal year 2022, CSFP served around 631,000 seniors with incomes at or below 130% of the federal poverty level (approximately $15,301 for a household of one).
- Unlike the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), CSFP is a discretionary program, meaning Congress determines its funding level each year through the federal appropriations process. The program can only serve as many eligible participants as funding allows, regardless of how many people may qualify. Due to caseload limits, many seniors are on waitlists to access the program.