Dear Chairman Aderholt and Ranking Member Bishop,
We write to express our strong support for preserving the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) in the Fiscal Year 2019 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. As you may know, President Trump has proposed to eliminate all funding for the CSFP in his Fiscal Year 2019 budget request. We strongly urge you to reject this proposed elimination and provide sufficient funding to maintain the current caseload, and to provide an opportunity for the one remaining state to start their program subject to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval. Based on currently available program costs, we estimate that the needed appropriation will need to be no less than $250 million.
As you may know, CSFP is a critical nutrition program that delivers USDA commodities primarily to seniors. In this time of continued economic hardship, reliance on nutrition assistance is greater than ever. CSFP is an important component of our nutrition efforts because it reaches many seniors who qualify for no other program while providing delivery for those that are homebound.
In FY 2018 CSFP will provide up to 728,552 food packages each month in 49 states, the District of Columbia, 3 Indian Tribal Organizations, and Puerto Rico. This year program participants are elderly individuals with an income at or below $15,782. CSFP food packages are designed to supplement needed sources of nutrients typically lacking in participants' diets, including protein, iron, zinc, and vitamins B-6 and B-12. CSFP providers also have been very cost efficient: the typical food package has a retail value up to $50 but costs the Federal government approximately $20 per participant package.
As you begin the appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2019, we urge you to maintain sufficient funding to this important lifeline that supports many seniors in our communities. We appreciate your consideration of this important request and look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that no American goes hungry.