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NAPS program combats senior hunger - Pequot Lakes, Pine River have distribution sites

Senior hunger is a serious issue. Seniors face high medical and housing expenses that leave them with little money for groceries.

Of the 17,200 people Second Harvest serves monthly, 4,300 are seniors. Second Harvest is working to educate the communities it serves about the programs available to seniors.

Many people's budgets are stretched and they can't afford to provide food to their seniors because they are struggling themselves. Sometimes the way they can help is to take action by working side-by-side with a senior and making a phone call, on their behalf, to see what help is available to them.

A simple phone call to the Second Harvest CSFP coordinator may help determine if a senior qualifies for the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors (NAPS). NAPS is the Minnesota name for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

CSFP is a supplemental food and nutrition program that is designed to provide healthy and nutritious commodity food products each month at no cost to eligible participants. In 2016, 21,980 NAPS boxes (over 650,000 pounds of food) were distributed in this region.

NAPS is distributed at over 50 distribution sites within the region. Second Harvest serves Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching and Mille Lacs counties.

To qualify for NAPS, a participant must 60 or older, a resident of Minnesota and income-eligible. Each NAPS package includes a nutritious balance of shelf-stable foods, in addition to two pounds of cheese. NAPS packages include:

• Canned fruits and vegetables, and bottled, unsweetened 100 percent juice.

• Ready-to-eat cereals and/or hot cereals.

• Rice or pasta.

• Peanut butter or dry beans.

• Canned beef, chicken, chunky beef stew, or beef chili without beans.

• Shelf-stable 1 percent milk, low-fat American cheese and, every other month, instant nonfat dry milk.

NAPS is distributed one time a month at the Cole Memorial Building in Pequot Lakes. The distribution is held on the second Thursday following the first Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

NAPS is also distributed at the Pine River-Backus Family Center on the second Tuesday from 2-4 p.m. There is also distribution at the Pine River Heartland and Norway apartments for residents only.

Applications will be taken on-site, or for more information about NAPS or to see if you or a senior you know is eligible, call the CSFP coordinator at Second Harvest North Central Food Bank at 218-326-4420, extension 22.