Assistance may be coming for over 2200 low-income seniors in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties from Harry Chapin Food Bank (HCFB) to replace supplemental food from a government program that will be discontinued in July.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently announced that it was discontinuing funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) in 3 Southwest Florida counties, as it refocuses the program on other counties that it considers higher priorities. CSFP had been providing monthly kits of food to low income seniors in Lee, Collier and Charlotte Counties for two years, and was an effective and popular source of assistance for the poorest seniors in those counties.
HCFB has been working to connect affected seniors with other sources of food assistance, and expanding feeding programs to fill any remaining gaps. Good news arrived today from Senator Kathleen Passidomo who sponsored a bill in the Florida Senate to provide a match of 50% of the funding HCFB needs to launch a senior food kit program in Southwest Florida. The bill has passed in the Senate and is now part of the Senate budget.
Senator Jack Latvala, Alternating Chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, played a pivotal role in getting the funding request through the Senate, an important step in expanding options available to Southwest Florida seniors in need of food assistance.
The challenge is not over. The funding request will also require approval from the House.
"We are so grateful for the support of Senators Latvala and Passidomo. Hunger is a terrible reality to many of the poorest and most vulnerable seniors in our community. This program would extend important food assistance to relieve that problem," said Richard LeBer, President & CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida.
For more information, contact Kari Lefort, Program Director of the Harry Chapin Food Bank, at 239-334-7007, ext. 124.