Once each month, for several years now, Central Dallas Ministries has participated in a program offered to Dallas by the North Texas Food Bank. The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), an effort of the United States Department of Agriculture, provides nutrient-rich foods to low-income persons on a monthly basis.
Organizations like CDM serve as distribution centers.
Each month our great staff and faithful community volunteers have been providing fruits and vegetables, juices, meats, fish, peanut butter, cereals and grain products, cheese and other dairy products to low-income persons through this wonderful program.
At CDM all of the beneficiaries of these supplemental foods are elderly persons.
We serve grandparents!
Nationwide 90% of those served in this program are senior citizens.
You should be here on this special day each month.
The atmosphere is part carnival, part social event, part church fellowship! The wonderful older folks who show up are so grateful for the food. They are also glad to see each other and our team.
CSFP is one of the smartest, cleanest, most economical programs available.
But, during FY2006, the program will be severely cut back--59,000 people will be dropped. In Dallas, 700 elderly residents will no longer be allowed to receive this benefit.
If Congress approves the President's budget for FY2007, the entire program will be eliminated to cut spending costs, again, to find funds to help underwrite more tax cuts for our wealthiest citizens.
Translation: over 459,000 seniors from across the nation will no longer receive the monthly food supplement, over 7,000 here in Dallas.
A recent survey of current participants revealed that more than 50% of seniors who live alone reported monthly income of less than $750. In senior households of two, more than half reported monthly income of less than $1,000 per month.
When asked about plans to cut this community-based, highly efficient program, the Dallas Congressional office of U. S. Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) responded by saying that these seniors could "sign up for Food Stamps."
Oh, sure. Transportation, paperwork, pride. . .only a partial list of the roadblocks for seniors seeking the meager Food Stamp benefit.
Clearly, Mr. Hensarling knows very little, if anything, about poverty as a crushing fact of life.
But then, that's why we have this problem, isn't it?