Utahns over 65 are a vulnerable population when it comes to the dangers of COVID-19, but many already faced the vulnerability of food insecurity. May is Older Americans Month, and while the month is nearly over, the unique difficulties that can come with aging are not. The number of food-insecure seniors will only expand as the senior population continues to grow.
Older Utahns are currently facing increased health and food access challenges due to the pandemic, and are more likely to develop nutrition-related health problems because of it. This is especially concerning considering the increased health, financial, and nutritional challenges that can occur with aging.
Living on a fixed income can be incredibly difficult and stressful. Many low-income seniors face spending tradeoffs – choosing between food and necessities, such as housing, utilities, health-related costs, and transportation – that can lead to or worsen food insecurity. It’s a vicious cycle, as food-insecure seniors are more likely to have chronic health conditions, and chronic health conditions can lead to greater food insecurity.
Utah Food Bank has two direct service programs focused on homebound seniors and people with disabilities, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) and the UFB Food Box Program. Through these two programs, we distributed 46,212 food boxes to this vulnerable population last year. Since the COVID-19 crisis, we have implemented health and safety protocols to ensure the protection of our clients who receive these boxes, along with those delivering these food boxes.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is a federally funded program that works to improve the health of seniors living in poverty who are at least 60 years of age. The USDA ships nutritious foods directly to Utah Food Bank, including canned fruits, vegetables, cereal, cheese, and more. CSFP offers a free monthly food box delivery containing 10 days’ worth of nutrient-rich foods specific to seniors to help them maintain a healthy diet. Recipients also receive nutrition education and delicious recipes specific to the supplied food, so they can maximize the number of meals they can make using the food they receive. If you, or someone you know, are interested in participating in the CSFP program, you can find information here.
The UFB Food Box program is an expansion of CSFP and includes monthly food box deliveries to homebound seniors and people with disabilities. These boxes are delivered primarily by caring volunteers, who are sometimes the only visitors these clients receive. If you are interested in volunteering to deliver food boxes to homebound seniors, please click here to learn more.