Bill Would Streamline the Application Process for the ‘Senior Food Box Program’ and Reduce Burden on Seniors and States
Bill Comes After Examining Senior Nutrition at Aging Committee Hearing
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, applauded the Senate’s passage of the Nourishing Our Golden Years Act, which would streamline the recertification process and reduce the administrative burden on states for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), also known as the Senior Food Box Program. This legislation is included in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, which passed the Senate today by a vote of 86 to 11. The Senate and the House of Representatives must now reconcile their two versions of the Farm Bill before sending a final bill to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“Far too many seniors in Maine and across the nation find themselves forced to choose between buying food and buying prescription drugs or paying essential bills,” said Chairman Collins. “The Senior Food Box program provides qualified seniors with fruits, vegetables, and healthy non-perishable foods to fill this void. Our bipartisan legislation would not only make it easier for seniors to continue to receive the assistance, but it would simplify the process for state agencies that provide this critical support.”
“I am pleased that the Nourishing Our Golden Years Act has passed the Senate. This bill will strengthen the Senior Food Box Program, which is a vital tool for ensuring older adults have enough to eat” said Ranking Member Casey. “Everyday, millions of seniors, in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, don’t know where their next meal will come from. Older Americans have worked hard their entire lives, this bill will help ensure seniors do not struggle in their golden years for something as basic as having food to eat.”
The Senior Food Box Program reduces food insecurity in Americans age 60 and older by providing a monthly box of non-perishable items to program participants. Currently, participants must recertify every six months to remain in the program even though most participating seniors are on a fixed income and unlikely to experience fluctuations in eligibility. Participants who miss their deadline to recertify are no longer eligible to receive a food box and must reapply. The six-month recertification period poses a barrier to participation. The Nourishing Our Golden Years Act would lift this barrier by extending how often participants must recertify to once per year. This policy change would also minimize the administrative burden for both participants and states, making the program work better.
Last year, the Aging Committee held a hearing on senior nutrition. In 2014, 10.2 million older adults experienced some level of food insecurity. Seniors who are food insecure are more likely to experience depression, develop asthma, and report heart problems—all of which can lead to increased doctor and emergency room visits as well as hospitalizations. In the U.S., the estimated annual cost of disease-associated malnutrition among older Americans is more than $50 billion.