Counties opening food assistance program to more seniors 60-older

For seniors on a fixed income, the current economic reality puts them in a tough spot. The cost of everything — from food and fuel to medications — keeps climbing higher, while their monthly budget often stays stuck in place.

There is additional help available, at least on the food front, with the announcement this week that the local food assistance program has gotten the green light to slightly expand.

According to the county, the local Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides extra food every month to more than 1,450 seniors in Mesa, Montrose, Delta, Garfield, Ouray and San Miguel counties, has room for 40 more people who qualify.

The program is available to seniors 60 years and older who meet certain income requirements. A person who lives alone and has a gross monthly income of about $1,200 or less is eligible. For two-person households, the maximum income threshold is $1,640. There is a sliding scale of multiple-person households.

People in the program receive boxes of food once a month.

“The opportunity for expansion doesn’t come along very often,” said Michael Heidel, Mesa County Health Department food distribution program manager.

He said the program has been operating at “100-percent caseload” for a while, and the last time the program expanded was three years ago.

The county is encouraging people who are interested to call 241-3651 as soon as possible and set up an appointment to determine if they are eligible.

Heidel said seniors are being hit particularly hard by a general increase in the cost of living, including a recent spike in food prices.

“The one thing that hasn’t gone up is (seniors’) fixed income. Their income is stuck, and everything else is going up,” he said. “This is the perfect opportunity to add about $45 to $50 in food to their food income every month.”

Pre-packed boxes of food usually include canned and dry goods, pasta, meat, fruits and vegetables, cereal, peanut butter, juice and cheese.

Mesa County is the regional hub for the U.S. Department of Agriculture program, but for people living in surrounding counties there are a number of different ways to get food delivered to outlying areas. Heidel said people can also pick up two months’ worth of food at a time, meaning fewer trips to pick up supplies.

More information is available by calling the Mesa County Food Distribution Program or by visiting


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