The winter months prove to be some of the toughest times for food insecure seniors in Northwest Indiana. Many have limited mobility and the harsh weather makes it even more difficult for them to leave their homes and head to the grocery store. This results in many of our seniors eating more preserved, unhealthy foods or just skipping meals all together.
The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is working to change this. Several years ago, they began a program called the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) which involved Food Bank of NWI workers and volunteers making monthly food deliveries to local food insecure seniors. These deliveries contain many shelf-stable and canned items so that they last throughout the month.
This year, the Food Bank has started another program targeting the same group called Fresh Produce Box. The Fresh Produce Box program will ensure that the CSFP recipients also receive a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are often hard for seniors to obtain, particularly in the winter.
Each produce box contains between nine and 12 pounds of fresh produce, meant as a nutritional supplement to the shelf-stable food that is provided by the CSFP boxes. There are 245 low-income seniors in East Chicago that benefit from the Fresh Produce Box program.
The program was made possible by a Foundations of East Chicago (FEC) program grant. It began in August and will run through June of 2017.
One thing that sets the Fresh Produce Box program apart from other food assistance programs is that it is much more inclusive. Many other programs have mobility restrictions and will only deliver to seniors with certain disabilities. In the meantime, those seniors who are mobile but can’t afford food or those who can walk but can’t drive to a food pantry suffer. The Food Bank of NWI works to help all food insecure seniors in the area, regardless of mobility.
To learn more about the Fresh Produce Box program and others like it, visit foundationsec.org.