A Box Of Sustenance


Photo courtesy of Feeding America

Ruthie Wright is a delightful lady who lives in one of the East St. Louis Housing Authority buildings.

Like many low-income seniors, Ruthie has struggled to survive on social security benefits since her retirement.

To keep food on the table, she visits food pantries in her neighborhood and applies for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, commonly known as food stamps.

But even with that help, Ruthie and many of her elderly neighbors have discovered they do not have enough food to last the entire month.

Luckily, Ruthie participates in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). This monthly program provides seniors age 60 and older with a supplemental box of food each month.

As long as a senior meet the income requirements for the program, he or she can receive the free box of food. Each box contains a specific amount of items, including:

• two boxes of cereal
• a bag of either rice or pasta
• a jar of peanut butter or dry beans
• four cans of vegetables
• two cans of fruit
• two 64-ounce containers of juice
• one can of protein, which can vary from beef stew to chili or chicken
• two 32-ounce containers of milk
• a brick of cheese

The variety of the items may differ from month to month, but it is this basic assortment of these food staples.

The seniors are also given a nutrition education sheet, which includes a puzzle and a recipe that features an item in the box.

Ruthie not only relies on her own box, but she serves as an advocate for the other seniors in her building. She is a very active member of her church and acts as the Tennant Association Board President of her building.

Ruthie makes sure that everyone who qualifies for a CSFP box of food has signed up and receives their food in a timely manner.

Ruthie is just one of more than 8500 seniors who receive this box on a monthly basis. The St. Louis Area Foodbank delivers the CSFP or “senior boxes” to each individual’s apartment complex or to a pantry in St. Louis city and county in Missouri and in St. Clair and Madison counties in Illinois.

Over the last several years, many seniors have found themselves in the same situation as Ruthie. The need for food security is increasing in the senior community at an alarming rate.

Ruthie and her neighbors have often commented how thankful they are for receiving such a gift every month. It really helps them stretch their other means of nutrition a little further.

They wait patiently in the lobby of their building every month on the day their boxes are due to be delivered, anxious to discover what awaits them this month.

Suzi Seeker    Suzi Seeker is the CSFP Agency Relations Coordinator at the St. Louis Area Foodbank



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