NAPS program helps seniors in need receive supplemental food
Published 9:00 am Sunday, March 15, 2020
For many years, a program funded through the federal farm bill has helped local eligible seniors receive free food.
Named the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, or Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors in Minnesota, the program provides a 40- to 50-pound box of food each month to seniors who meet income requirements and are registered with the program.
Food is distributed every third Monday of the month in Albert Lea at both Senior Court, Senior Tower and the Fairlane Building at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds. Volunteers also deliver food boxes to seniors who are not able to pick them up.
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Volunteer Hazel Spiering, who is the site manager at the Fairlane Building location, said once people are signed up for the program, she or another volunteer will give the participant a card that lasts for three years. Participants show the card each time they come to pick up their food.
The program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, includes food from Channel One Regional Food Bank that is distributed with the help of local volunteers. Food boxes include food meant to supplement a person’s diet, such as canned fruits, vegetables, juices, milk, cheese, canned meat, peanut butter or dried beans, cereal, and rice or pasta.
Terry Perkins, another volunteer at the fairgrounds site, said in the earlier years of the program, participants received excess foods from farmers but that has evolved over the years to include more of a complete package, such as fruit, juices, cheese and cereal. During the summer, participants can get vouchers to the Albert Lea Farmers Market.
“People really appreciate getting this food,” Perkins said, noting it can supplement food received through other resources such as the Albert Lea Salvation Army or Ecumenical Food Pantry.
Perkins, Spiering and Ashley Shaft, a senior advocate at Senior Resources who works at the Senior Court and Senior Tower distribution sites, said participants in the program have decreased over the years. There used to be as many as 180 families between all of the sites, but it has decreased to roughly 50 families at the fairgrounds site and 50 at the senior facilities.
Perkins and Spiering said they have both volunteered through the program for at least 10 years.
Spiering said she found out about it through her church bulletin. She went to her pastor, asked what the program was and has been involved ever since.
Shaft and Spiering said there are about six volunteers at the senior sites and 10 at the Fairlane Building. More volunteers are always welcome.
People interested in volunteering can contact Shaft at Senior Resources.
To find out more about registering for the program, people can contact Maria Villagrana at 507-424-1704.
Items needed to register are proof of residency, proof of identity and age, and knowledge of current gross household income.
Foods NAPS participants receive
• Canned fruits packed in juice or light syrup
• Canned vegetables with low sodium
• Bottled 100% juice
• Nonfat dry and shelf stable lowfat milk
• Lowfat American cheese
• Canned meat like chicken, beef stew, chili or tuna, and peanut butter or dry beans
• Cereal and rice or pasta
By the numbers
40-50: Approximate pounds of food in each box a person receives each month through the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors
60: Age or older that residents must be to be eligible for the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors
50: NAPS distribution centers throughout southeastern Minnesota