Seniors ages 60 and over can now take part in the Kansas Food Bank’s Commodity Supplemental Food Program in Labette County. Those who meet the income guidelines and live within the county will be eligible to receive a food box. Its contents vary each month, according to the KSF community relations manager Debi Kreutzman.
Kreutzman, along with Melissa Koehn, Food 4 Kids program manager, and LaVeta Noble, KSF’s agency coordinator, were on hand Friday afternoon at the gymnasium in Parsons Foursquare Church, 98 Main.
As Koehn and Noble took applications — there are 100 slots open for Labette County seniors — Kreutzman trained volunteers Patricia Scott of Center Bethel Church, LeeAnn Spencer and Theresa Leonardo of Labette Assistance Center, Debbie Yanez of Savannah Park, Elaine Hudson of Labette Health and Amy and Tim Reynolds of Foursquare Church, which will host the program.
The first food distribution will be Dec. 17 for seniors who have already completed an application and provided the necessary documentation.
“Locally they’ll be distributed on the third Tuesday of the month between 1 to 3 p.m. at the Foursquare Church. Volunteers here at the food bank will then pack the boxes each month,” she said. “That way, the site simply has to distribute to those approved on their sign-in sheet.”
If seniors are physically unable to pick up their food box, they are able to have the assistance of a “proxy,” someone close to them — a family member, or neighbor — who will also be notified when the boxes arrive at the church.
“We really want as many people who need this program to be aware of it,” Kreutzman said. “We’re very glad to be able to make Labette County one of the counties we’re serving now. Currently we’re serving 850 seniors with this program.”
The boxes will weigh about 28 pounds and contents will vary each month. However, the same number of items each month will be offered, for example two cans of fruit, two cans of rice or pasta, two boxes of cereal unless it is oatmeal month, she said.
“It really is a lot, and if there are cheeses we tell everyone to refrigerate them. It can mold and go bad,” she said. “The holiday seasons especially can be a tough time for seniors, so we’re really hoping to have all 100 slots filled quickly. We’re ready to roll with it.”
The income guidelines are based upon the gross income before Medicare or any other type of expense is deducted from Social Security, SSI, or wages.
The requirement bracket includes the household size and maximum income. For a senior living alone, the maximum income would be $1,354; for two people, $1,832; three, $2,311; four, $2,790; five, $3,269; six, $3,748; seven, $4,227; and eight, $4,705. For each additional family member, $479 is added.
Items that seniors are required to bring are a driver’s license or state ID for everyone in their household, proof of address such as a utility bill, proof of income (pay stubs for the past 30 days or a Social Security statement, unemployment and any retirement information such as a received pension.
“One thing we cannot accept are copies of bank statements,” Kreutzman said. “Another thing we really wanted to stress is that even though someone might not get accepted immediately, keep applying. I think the biggest thing all of us can focus on is that it’s not a shameful thing to need or accept this type of help. Everyone struggles. But no one is going to see your information, only I will and that information is locked away afterward.”
Amy Reynolds agreed, and noted that all of them, known as hunger care partners, would “easily fill those 100 slots.”
“I think it’s very doable and we’d have it filled in no time,” she said. “This is a great program. It originated in Crawford County and just grew from there. We also provide assistance to Montgomery County.”
She noted that surveys will also be handed out to seniors, and volunteers were encouraged to make sure these were filled out so that the Food Bank can know where to improve upon their services. One benefit, she emphasized, was that even if seniors joined the CFSP, they would not lose out on any other benefits.
“A good part of that survey is to make sure we’re getting the right kinds of foods people will enjoy and eat. Yes, some of it will be canned and nonperishables, but there’s a lot of it in one box alone and we hope it provides that senior with what they might need within reason. We’re very happy to be here in Labette County now.”
For more information, contact Kreutzman at (316) 265-3663.