Commodity Supplemental Food Program.
The federal government Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) can provide an assortment of free food and groceries to the low income. Nutritious commodities, referrals to social services, and nutrition education are all part of the program. Assistance is wide ranging, and is offered for seniors who are sixty years of age or older, pregnant women and families with children up to age six. Several conditions need to be met before the Commodity Supplemental Food Program will provide families with groceries, commodities and food. All services are offered at no cost to qualified families.
While the U.S. Department of Agriculture funds and manages the program at the national level, aid is distributed at the state and local county level. State governments will subcontract with non-profit agencies, food pantries, and charities throughout the area for the distribution of the food to those who need help. Each state may have their own eligibility requirements that is used for determining exactly who is eligible to receive assistance from CSFP.
As indicated above, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program is targeted at certain individuals. It is extensive in that over 500,000 people will receive some form of nutritional aid from the program every year. In general, the following can apply for help.
- Women and their children that can’t qualify for the federal government Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) due to their financial or personal situation may be able to receive assistance from CSFP.
- Elderly who are 60 years of age or older.
- Non-breastfeeding women 6-12 months postpartum may be eligible.
- Families with children who are six years old or younger may be able to receive free food and surplus items.
- Families that can’t qualify for other government aid, such as welfare.
Types of food offered
High quality commodity foods are made available from CSFP to those who need help. All products are made available from the United States Department of Agriculture as well as the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Local pantries and soup kitchens may also provide supplemental support to clients. Food and groceries that are available for monthly distribution, at no cost to qualified clients, include:
- Cheese and dairy products
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Peanut butter, dried beans, jelly
- Canned fish and various meats
- Evaporated and nonfat dry milk
- Breakfast cereals
- Fruit juices and beverages
- Rice, macaroni, spaghetti
All of the assistance offered from Commodity Supplemental Food Program was never meant to completely fulfill a families diet and meet all of their nutritional needs. In other words, the food packages from CSFP will not provide a complete diet. However they can be a great source of the nutrients that seniors, children, and pregnant women need. They can supplement those items and nutrients that are often lacking in the diets of these individuals.
How to apply for Commodity Supplemental Food Program
Most states offer the program to their residents. The organizations at the state government level that run the CSFP program will usually be a social service organization or department of health. Regardless of which state agency administers it for your region, at the end of the day public and non-profit local agencies and food pantries accept applications and distribute the items to the low income and qualified families.
These local non-profit agencies and food banks accept applications, and will determine the eligibility of people who seek help. For anyone seeking more information on this service, including how to apply, a social worker from a local pantry can be a great resource.
For those that qualify, a pantry or center will distribute food from the CSFP to those who need it most. Not only will these agencies provide products, but they will also offer nutrition education and counseling. Most agencies will also provide referrals to other nutrition and welfare resources such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and health care programs such as Medicaid or Medicare.
Contacts for CSFP
You can contact your local state social services or human resources agency to get more information or to apply. Or call a pantry or local community action agency. As indicated the criteria to apply for Commodity Supplemental Food Program in each state may vary. Select your state below for more details.
In addition to calling an agency at the state level, you can also call or stop by a non-profit agency in your town or county. This can include a local community action agency, the Salvation Army, or a food pantry. Many different resources can help with applications to CSFP. Click here to find non-profits in your state and county.