Food Assistance Programs For Seniors

Food scarcity is a major problem for many seniors across the country. Programs exist in both the public and private sector to help.
Older woman with tooth pain informs a dentist

Are you struggling to get the nutrition you need? If so, help is here.

With these programs, low income seniors can get food, financial help for food delivery, and not have to struggle with this basic human need.

Let’s explore the options you have for getting food on the table.

If You Need Food Today

Check out the Feeding America website to find a local food bank. Feeding America is a nationwide network of food banks, and distributes 4.3 billion meals each year. It is focused on engaging people to fight against hunger.

It offers food without any expectation of payment, donation, or repayment.

Many food programs offer low-or-no contact options to ensure safety for visitors. Some offer seniors-only hours, drive-thru pantries, and expanded home delivery services. Check out what is available in your area.

Senior Food Assistance Programs

Senior Box Program

The commodity supplemental food program (CSFP) is often called the ‘senior box program.’ This program feeds more than half a million low-income seniors, ages 60 and older. It is designed to provide food packages that supplement nutrients and support health.

Senior Grocery Programs

Many of the Feeding America food banks offer Senior Grocery Programs. These programs provide free groceries to older adults. Don’t worry – there are no strings attached. Check with your local food bank to find a program in your area.


Find help with a free online service, Benefits CheckUp, offered by the National Council on Aging. Answer a few questions and get a personalized report of programs in your area. These offerings may include programs that can help with food, medications, health care, utilities and more. Assistance is available in English andd Spanish.

Meals on Wheels

This is one of the largest, long-standing, and well-known food programs in the United States. Meals on Wheels offers over 5000 programs and over 1 million meals per day. Meals are available for groups, as well as direct deliver for individuals who are homebound.

The local branches of Meals on Wheels are staffed by volunteers, with some programs overseen by county or city funding. Check out the programs available in your area.

Close-up of volunteers placing food into a donation box


SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a government-provided service, formerly called Food Stamps. Social Services offices usually handle SNAP applications. Some communities also have a designated SNAP Office.

Check with your state and county programs to see if you qualify for financial assistance for groceries. If you have limited mobility, it’s possible to fill out forms so a caregiver can complete the application, as well as get authorization to do your shopping with a SNAP card.

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is also known as SFMNP. This government program gives grants to states to help seniors get access to healthy farm food. Seniors who qualify are given vouchers or coupons to use at farmer’s markets, farm stands, or direct from a participating farmer. In most areas, the program operates from May through October.

If you’re currently part of CSFP or participate in SNAP, you can contact your local benefits office to get coupons, without having to fill out an application.

Approximately 840,000 seniors receive SFMNP coupons each year – and 85% are redeemed. The coupons can be used to buy fresh, seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey. It is also a great way for seniors to interact with members of the community, supporting farmers and small food producers.

Insurance Programs

Some insurance companies are assisting seniors who are homebound. These programs may be very useful for people who are suffering from chronic conditions, recovering from surgery, or experiencing limited mobility.

One program Humana Well Dine offers meals to qualifying Medicare members. These meals are easy to prepare, packaged, and available at no additional cost. Different options are available such as kosher, vegetarian, diabetic, puree, and more. The program is designed to help eligible seniors get high-quality food while recovering from a stay in a hospital or nursing home.

Restaurant and Voucher Programs

The Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) and state governments are exploring ways to meet the food and dining needs of different populations. Some states, such as Oregon, offer vouchers at restaurants or other food service establishments.

Check with your county and state Department of Human Services to see what programs are available in your area.

Local Resources

Every community has unique programs to help seniors get adequate and nutritious food. Some areas offer programs under the umbrella of Emergency COVID funding, state programs, and county services.

Check with your local government for details about programs that may be available to get the assistance you need. Most of these programs offer pantry directories for cities and rural communities – in English and Spanish.

For instance, in Lane County, Oregon, you’ll find an online directory of pantries, food banks, and resources. The links include information about dining room services for people who are at-risk, homeless, or near homeless. Additionally, you can link to resources for Trillium Produce Plus, which brings high-quality produce to people in need – free of charge.

There may be similar programs in your area – check online to get the help you need.

Assistance Club Summary

Many organizations and programs are available to help seniors get access to nutritious food. Get the food, financing, and access you need to eat well. You have options to get the food you need to stay healthy and well.