By Nicholas Goodman, MiCAFE Network Specialist
For many, holidays in December bring joy and excitement. For those living on a fixed income, the social expectations for providing meals at family gatherings can be stressful and overwhelming. Here are some resources to make this time of year less anxiety-inducing:
- Feeding America has a network of food banks in the southern lower peninsula. You can search by zip code to find a food bank near you. Food banks supply food to food pantries to distribute to the public. Feeding America also facilitates a Senior Grocery Program, in which your local food bank may participate.
- The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), run by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “works to improve the health of low-income elderly persons at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA Foods.” CSFP has eligibility guidelines, and a person can apply by contacting their State Distributing Agency.
- Gleaners Community Food Bank operates pantrynet.org, where you can search for food pantries by zip code and distance for the whole state of Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula.
- If you receive SNAP benefits and have a Bridge Card, you can take advantage of the Double Up Food Bucks program run by the Fair Food Network. Although most farmers markets are closed seasonally, there may be participating grocery stores in your area through December 31 or potentially year-round. Flint has special exceptions for Double Up Food Bucks, which allow Bridge Card recipients to purchase fresh Michigan produce as well as other foods such as milk, and canned or frozen fruits and vegetables.
- The Food Bank Council of Michigan recommends contacting your local Area Agency on Aging to see if you can enroll in Meals on Wheels and have meals delivered for you to your home.
- Among other resources, calling the United Way at 2-1-1 can help you locate your nearest Agency on Aging to ask about congregate meal sites.
Please keep in mind that program availability can change depending on funding and the time of year. If you are not currently receiving food assistance through the Department of Health and Human services, and would like to see if you are eligible for a Bridge Card, please contact us at the MiCAFE Network. We can be reached Monday through Thursday, 9AM to 3PM at 877.664.2233.