Lapse in food program could mean LI seniors go hungry

Thousands of Long Island seniors could go hungry due to a lapse in the federal Commodity Supplemental Food Program.
The program works to improve the health of low-income persons at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA Foods.
According to Newsday, the CSFP serves about 4,000 seniors in Nassau and Suffolk.
However, the threshold apparently changed last year, requiring vendors to “serve at least 8,000 clients, and Catholic Charities of the Rockville Centre Diocese, the nonprofit that previously administered the program, decided it couldn’t comply. So, Catholic Charities didn’t bid on a new request for providers last year.”
And neither did anyone else. According to the report, the “Health Department officials say they were surprised when the bidding closed without a bid from Catholic Charities or other Long Island providers.”
In the meantime, the New York Common Pantry and Long Island Cares have stepped in to provide food for seniors in need, until a more permanent solution is in place.
According to Paule Pachter, who heads up Long Island Cares, state officials came up with temporary funding to plug the holes, allowing Long Island Cares to step in and get food to the seniors who desperately need it.
“What we are doing now is delivering the food, meeting with the seniors, finding out perhaps what their other needs are,” says Pachter.
Emergency funding from New York state is allowing Stop and Shop and Long Island Cares to provide tons of fresh food to the seniors in Long Beach on Friday. However, because the temporary state funding runs out March 31, Pachter says state officials must come up with a long-term plan.