For over 10 years, Milestone Senior Services and Loaves and Fishes have collaborated to bring food to the tables of low-income individuals aged 60 and over. One of those ways is with the Commodities Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) where Milestone Senior Services has been a connector for Loaves and Fishes to seniors in our community that may need an extra hand getting food on their table each month. This collaboration has been able to serve up to 650 seniors in need throughout the Kalamazoo County area each month since this collaboration began.
The Commodities Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) works towards improving the overall health of low-income persons 60 and over by supplementing their diet with USDA nutritious foods at participating locations. CSFP puts together boxes that are carefully curated with fruits, vegetables, grains, meats and cheeses that can be used throughout the month. In the Kalamazoo area, Loaves and Fishes is the participating location that helps distribute the food to qualifying individuals on a drive-thru or drop off basis. Loaves and Fishes role is to be the oversight component that orders food from the USDA and prepares the orders for the day of delivery. They have partnered with the Salvation Army on Burdick’s Street to create an easy and efficient location where people can come and pick up their CSFP boxes each month. Loaves and Fishes bring a truckload of food-filled boxes to the Salvation Army and Nikki Brown from Milestone Senior Services plus additional volunteers assist in handing out the food.
Not only has this program become a resource of nourishment physically, but also emotionally. This program has taken away some of the stress that comes along with food disparities and has also become a way for people to connect with others in the community. During the height of the pandemic, the CSFP drive-thru was some people's only form of social interaction outside of their homes. Those receiving food got excited each month to see the familiar and friendly faces of the volunteers distributing the food. Each box also comes with recipe cards to give participating individuals some inspiration on what they can prepare with the ingredients given.
Milestone Senior Services’ Nutrition Programs Assistant, Nikki Brown, is at Salvation Army every month through rain, sleet, shine or snow to provide people with their boxes of food. Nikki has been helping with CSFP since November 2019 and has seen how the program has changed in response to the pandemic. Nikki says, “the commodities program is one of my favorite parts of my job” and she has made lots of friends with the clients through handing out the food boxes. One of those friends that Nikki has made is Helen Higgins.
Helen Higgins lives with her mother-in-law and granddaughter. Family, and providing for them, is important to Helen. When her husband passed away a few years ago, she lost her main source of income, and it became difficult for her to put food on the table for her family. Helen said CSFP has been such a help to her in feeding herself and her family. She has even said that if she could, she would volunteer her time back with Milestone Senior Services or Loaves and Fishes because she is so grateful for the support that they have given her.
Not everyone that is involved with CSFP is there greeting people with their box each month. A lot of compassion and energy behind the scenes goes into keeping this program running smoothly. At Loaves and Fishes, Greta Faworski oversees areas like Fund Development and Public Relations and has been overseeing CSFP since the start of her role. In her time at Loaves and Fishes, she has been able to be part of a program that connects different entities throughout the community and connects people with different resources. Greta says, “It makes you feel really good to be able to connect resources to people that are in need and to see the relief on their faces when it becomes one less thing that they have to worry about.”
If you or someone you know could benefit from receiving food Support from the Commodities Supplemental Food Program, please reach out to Loaves and Fishes to see if you qualify. If you happen to not qualify for this program, there are still resources out there for you! Please feel free to contact Milestone Seniors to find the right program for you.
Loaves and Fishes Commodities Supplemental Food Program
Milestone Senior Services