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Poverty and Aging

Food Programs and Resources for Older Americans

National and local sources of food and nutrition benefits that are designed to help eliminate hunger and food insecurity in local communities:

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Helps low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health. Benefits are provided on an electronic card that is used like an ATM card and accepted at most grocery stores. 

Child and Adult Care Food Program. Provides reimbursement for meals and snacks served in child and adult day care facilities.

Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Commodity foods are made available to states, which in turn provide the food to local agencies that distribute to soup kitchens and food pantries.

Nutrition Services Incentive Program (NSIP). Provides funding for two senior nutrition programs: congregate meals and home-delivered meals offered at no cost to seniors. The program also funds volunteers to provide nutrition screening, education, and meal-planning counseling.

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Provides coupons for low-income seniors to buy fresh, unprepared foods at farmers markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs. Expands access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program. Provides a free box of food commodities tailored to meet the nutritional needs of the individual (up to once a month), with a focus on eligible seniors, pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children.

National Organizations

Alliance to End Hunger. Engages diverse institutions in building the public and political will to end hunger at home and abroad. The group is partnered with 75 member organizations, including corporations, nonprofit groups, universities, faith-based organizations, and individuals.

Bread for the World. Provides a collective Christian voice to urge the nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad by changing the policies, programs, and conditions that allow hunger and poverty to persist.

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. A policy organization working at the federal and state levels on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals, including extensive work on food assistance.

Congressional Hunger Center. A nonprofit anti-hunger leadership training organization comprised of members of Congress, Hill staff who focus on hunger and poverty issues, and anti-hunger organizations in the United States and abroad.

Feeding America. An organization made up of individuals, local food banks, national offices, as well as corporate and government partners who are working to secure and distribute food, provide funds to local food banks, standardize care, advocate for policy change, and move food and help to where they are most needed. 

Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). A national nonprofit organization working to improve public policies and public-private partnerships to eradicate hunger and under-nutrition in the United States. FRAC works with hundreds of national, state, and local nonprofit organizations and public agencies.

Meals on Wheels Association of America. The oldest and largest national organization composed of and representing local, community-based Senior Nutrition Programs in all 50 states, as well as the U.S. Territories.

For a general overview of federal nutrition assistance programs for older Americans, see Nutrition Assistance for Older Americans, published by the AARP Public Policy Institute.

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