Once a month, Food Security program volunteers and staff members travel from Steuben to Beals Island delivering commodity boxes to 120 seniors. These boxes contain a variety of shelf-stable foods meant to supplement the food recipients already have. The deliveries are not only helpful for the seniors, but they give the Mission a chance to check in with community members and offer any support and resources they might need.
The boxes are delivered the third week of each month in partnership with Eastern Area Agency on Aging (EAAA) through the USDA Commodity Supplemental Food Program. The food program assigns a Community Action Partnership (CAP) agency to each region, and for Downeast Maine, that CAP agency is EAAA.
“Recipients of the program fall into a certain income bracket and must be 60 years of age or older,” says Megan Smith, Food Security Program Coordinator. “Many of our recipients love seeing their delivery and add special requests.”
The boxes are packaged at the Good Shepherd Food Bank and include a variety of items such as non-fat dry and ultra pasteurized milk, juice, canned meat, poultry or fish, oats and ready-to-eat cereal, rice or pasta, peanut butter, dry beans, and canned fruits or vegetables.
For some, these deliveries can be a social lifeline. Many seniors enjoy chatting with and getting to know the delivery driver, and often are at the door waiting for a delivery. If staff or volunteers notice a person might need extra support, they can build on their already existing relationship to figure out how to best meet the recipient’s needs. If a recipient is not interested in chatting, they still receive information about additional resources from materials slipped into commodity boxes. These can include a pamphlet with information on anything from heating oil assistance to community events, or the Mission’s Housing Rehabilitation program.
“This program ensures our older community members receive enough food because that can be a struggle for those living on fixed incomes,” says Downeast Director Jenny Jones. “Working with Eastern Area Agency on Aging is a valuable partnership that broadens our reach and ensure all community members are receiving care and support.”
Learn more about our Food Security program and the initiatives we offer. The Mission welcomes anyone who wishes to volunteer and make deliveries or to assist in the food pantry. Interested individuals can apply through the Mission’s volunteer form. To learn about commodity boxes, visit the Eastern Area Agency on Aging.