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Learn about qualification for senior nutritional assistance

Senior hunger is a serious issue facing the community.

Seniors are faced with high medical and housing expenses, which leave them with little money for groceries, a news release from Second Harvest North Central Food Bank stated. Out of the 17,200 people being served by Second Harvest monthly, 4,300 are seniors.

"We understand that many people's budgets are stretched and they can't afford to provide food to their seniors because they are struggling themselves," the release stated. "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 phone call to the Second Harvest's Commodity Supplemental Food Program coordinator can help determine if a senior qualifies for the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors, or NAPS.

NAPS is the Minnesota name for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Supplemental Food Program, or CSFP.

The CSFP is a supplemental food and nutrition program designed to provide healthy and nutritious commodity food products each month at no cost to eligible participants. In 2016, 21,980 NAPS boxes (more than 650,000 pounds of food) were distributed in the region. The NAPS is distributed at more than 50 distribution sites within the region. Second Harvest Heartland serves Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching and Mille Lacs counties.

To qualify for NAPS, a participant must 60 years old or older, a resident of Minnesota and be income-eligible. Each NAPS package includes a nutritious balance of shelf-stable foods in addition to 2 pounds of cheese. The following is included in each package:

• 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 non-fat dry milk.

The nutrition program is distributed one time a month at the First Baptist Church, 7398 Fairview Road in Baxter. The distribution is 12:30-2 p.m., the first Wednesday of each month. The distribution is in the Fireside Room on the side of the building.

The organization also distributes NAPS at the Mississippi Terrace Apartments, for residents only, from 10:30-11 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the month.

Applications will be taken on-site. For more information about NAPS or to learn about eligibility, call the CSFP coordinator at Second Harvest North Central Food Bank at 218-326-4420, extension 22.