Help may be on the way for nearly 2,300 Southwest Florida low-income seniors who are at risk of losing food from a state program.
Sen. Kathleen Passidomo(R-Naples, Bonita Springs) sponsored an amendment in the Senate budget Wednesday to provide Harry Chapin Food Bank with $541,000 in funding to make up for funding lost to the food bank through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.
“This all came together Monday morning before we went into session at noon,” Passidomo said Thursday from Tallahassee. The money is in the Senate budget, we just need to make sure it stays there and that the House comes to the same position.”
The program provides low-income senior citizens with food deliveries. The current iteration of the program ends in July, as the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services shifted the program’s focus to other areas around the state, leaving seniors in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte Counties in a lurch.
“We are so grateful for the support of Senators Latvala and Passidomo. Hunger is a terrible reality to many of the poorest and most vulnerable seniors in our community. This program would extend important food assistance to relieve that problem,” said Richard LeBer, President & CEO of the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida.
Passidomo’s amendment, passed with the help of Sen. Jack Latvala(R-Clearwater), provides about half of the funding the food bank will lose from the program in July.
But even this is only a temporary solution.
“It’s non-recurring so we’re going to have to see how we do this in the future, but at least if we get this through the House it will tide them over for a year so we decide whether we can go back to the DACS and put them in their budget,” Passidomo said.
Passidomo said she hasn’t had the chance to talk with any House members from Southwest Florida, but is still optimistic something will get done. She served three terms in the House from 2010-2016.
“I’m not in the House anymore so I don’t have the ability to push it in the House, but I’m sure my former colleagues will be sympathetic to it and be able to help out.”
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