In 1965, Congress passed the Older Americans Act (OAA) establishing the federal Administration on Aging (AoA) and State Agencies on Aging (SAoA), which is the vehicle for the delivery of social and nutrition services to older Americans and their caregivers. Title VI of the OAA was created in 1972 and authorized funding for a national nutrition program including both congregate and home-delivered meals for seniors.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program started as a pilot program in late 2000 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a pilot program to provide vouchers to senior citizens to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets and road side stands. In 2001 it became an ongoing program.
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program was created by Congress to address hunger in specific population groups in a way that mutually promotes agriculture policy and alleviates hunger through the use of food commodities acquired under government farm supports.
WHO ADMINISTERS THE PROGRAM
On a federal level the Administration on Aging (AoA) within the Department of Health and Human Services administers the congregate and home delivered meals. In New York City (NYC) these programs are operated by non-profit organizations under contract with the NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA).
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service, which distributes the food and administrative funds to participating states and Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs), which in turn distributes the food to local distribution sites.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) is a federal program administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which administers the SFMNP grants to states. The New York Department of Agriculture and Markets partners with the New York State Department of Health in administrating the SFMNP in New York.
At the federal level, the AoA (Area on Aging) provides grants to support congregate and home delivered meals for older adults to local AOAoffices, which in NYC is the Department for the Aging (DFTA). DFTA provides the funding for both congregate and home delivered meals Monday through Friday. In addition, NYC receives private funding from individual and private foundations to provide meals-on-wheels on weekends and holidays.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program are funded annually by Congress.
Summary of Senior Citizen Nutrition Programs
COMMODITY SUPPLEMENTAL FOOD PROGRAM
The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) offers free and nutritious food to seniors 60 and older, with incomes below 130% of the federal poverty level. Applicants apply and pick up free food packages at local distribution sites.
Congregate meals are available to older adults, age 60 and older and their spouses. There are no income or resource requirements to participate. Eligible seniors can access congregate meals programs at senior centers, community centers, faith-based centers and adult day care centers. NYC residents can call 311 for operator assistance to locate his/her closest center.
HOME DELIVERED MEALS
Home delivered meals (meals-on-wheels) are available to homebound seniors 60 and over. There are no income or resource requirements to participate. Eligible seniors can access meals-on-wheels through a network of case management agencies. Individuals interested in requesting meals-on-wheels service should call the case management agency serving his/her local area.
SENIOR FARMERS’ MARKET NUTRITION PROGRAM
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides coupons for low-income seniors to buy fresh, unprepared foods at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs.