Many seniors on a fixed income often face tough decisions such as filling their prescriptions, paying rent or buying the food they need monthly. Although there are local and federal programs available to alleviate food insecurity for those in need, those programs are often underutilized for a variety of reasons. Many people don’t know these programs exist or that they qualify; others who do qualify may be unable to leave their home to pick up the food and may not have a friend or family member to help them. Initial registration for these assistance programs requires the senior to go in-person to an organization to fill out paperwork, which presents another set of obstacles for seniors confined to their home. Fortunately, these food assistance programs do allow for proxies – which is someone chosen to represent and pick up resources on behalf of a participant. With the new Senior Proxy Project, the obstacles faced by homebound seniors are greatly reduced or taken away.
The new Senior Proxy Project at the Tri-County Office on Aging allows for income-eligible, homebound seniors to enroll in two commodity programs and have monthly boxes of food delivered to their home. Commodity Programs are supplemental food programs aimed to assist and ensure those in need receive adequate nutrition. These programs are as following; The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) is designed for those aged 60 and above who fall at or below 130% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (FPIG). With this program the seniors receive 40-45 pounds of non-perishable goods once a month. The second program is The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP); this federal assistance program is based on income (≤200% of the FPIG), has no age restrictions and provides a box of about 35 pounds of non-perishable goods quarterly. These programs are USDA funded, and participating state agencies receive the food to distribute to the community. We are working closely with Lansing’s Capital Area Community Services to allow this to happen.
The Senior Proxy Project also offers participants the option of signing up to receive fresh produce delivered monthly along with their CSFP boxes. This fresh produce is packaged in a convenient box and contains 4-5 types of fruits and vegetables. Included are also fact sheets with nutritional information and recipes for the specific produce of the month. The produce boxes are donated and packaged by the Greater Lansing Food Bank and together we aim to increase nutrition education and healthy eating among the senior population.
This project through TCOA is completely funding free, and there are no fees for seniors to enroll in the Senior Proxy Project. We have volunteers pick up the commodity boxes from Capital Area Community Services and deliver them to seniors’ homes every month, and have other volunteers schedule deliveries. Our goal of this project is to empower seniors whose options may be limited and to bridge the gap between the resources available and those who need them.
If you are interested in volunteering with the Senior Proxy Project, whether it be delivering food, helping in the office or doing outreach – do not hesitate to give us a call. Deliveries only take an hour, and you can deliver multiple times or just once a month! We would love your help.
Rachel Tilson – Senior Proxy Project Coordinator
Phone: (517)-877-1425 Email: SeniorProxy@tcoa.org