Nassau County, NY New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, who chairs the Assembly Taskforce on Farm, Food & Nutrition Policy, and Senator John Brooks joined Long Island Cares for a press conference to call upon the New York State Department of Health to reopen the contract application process for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). Nearly 4,000 seniors on Long Island will lose access to nutritious food as of November 30, 2019, as the result of the department of health closing the contracting process for the CSFP.
CSFP is a discretionary program funded each year through the federal appropriations process. The program may only serve as many eligible participants as funding allows. CSFP provides USDA commodities and administrative funds to States, which in turn store and transport the food to local agencies for distribution to low-income clients. CSFP is the only USDA nutrition program that provides monthly food assistance specially targeted at low-income seniors. Participants either pick up their monthly CSFP food package at a food bank or organizations deliver the food package directly to the participants home, a vital program feature for seniors with limited mobility and resources.
New York State Health Department recently closed the contract application process due to a lack of applicants. In discussions with DOH/CFSP staff, it was reported that Long Island Cares, Inc. was notified about the recent RFP, however, the regional food bank did not apply for the grant since, Catholic Charities administers the program. According to Paule Pachter, Chief Executive Officer of Long Island Cares, If such notice was received, we would not have responded anyway since an allied organization was administering the program here on Long Island, however, when we learned that our partners at Catholic Charities were no longer interested in operating the program on Long Island, we attempted to access the RFP only to learn that the application window is now closed until the next contract cycle is up (in 4 years).
As the regional food bank for Long Island, we are deeply concerned about the well-being of thousands of seniors who will not have access to commodities available through USDA and NYSOGS. Although Long Island Cares has agreed to reach out to these seniors to offer the services of our four satellite pantries, mobile pantry, and make referrals, this population is best served by an active CSFP Program administered by the regional food bank for Long Island. We already administer the USDA TEFAP commodities program, New York State HPNAP program, and most recently the USDA Trade Mitigation initiative. We are concerned that 3,000-4000 seniors will fall between the cracks and not have access to needed food which could jeopardize their health and well-being, said Pachter.
Long Island Cares has the desire and infrastructure to serve our seniors, but without the additional funding and commodities through the CSFP, the health of nearly 4,000 seniors on Long Island is at risk, explained Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages. Already, far too many adults have faced or are currently facing periods of food insecurity. This is a resource that the Long Island region cannot afford to lose, especially when there is an organization willing to continue it. While the federal government continues its aggressive actions towards federal nutritional programs, states are one of the last layers of protection for vulnerable populations, and we simply cannot let them down. We must reopen the RFP.
Senator John E. Brooks stated, "As the holidays approach, we are again reminded of the value and importance of taking care of our neighbors and loved ones. Those who are part of vulnerable populations require our support and care more than anyone. That is why it is essential that we do not let thousands of low-income seniors on Long Island lose their access to nutritious food. I encourage the State of New York to reopen the contracting process for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program so that Long Island Cares can resume this valuable service that is so necessary for the health and well-being of so many in our senior population."
"The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is a vitally important food program for Long Island Seniors, and we cannot allow it to be shut-down." said Senator Phil Boyle.To view the press conference please click HERE.