SF senior food program gets cut back

September 22, 2008 7:13:31 PM PDT
While the government is finding the money to bailout banks, vital programs people depend on, are being cut. Just one example is the San Francisco Food Bank and its deliveries to senior citizens.

At the El Bethel Senior Center in San Francisco, the line forms every third Monday of the month. People for whom a box of food might make the difference between feeling hungry, or fed, or on a day like this, frustrated.

"What do they care about us? I'm trying to wonder is going on in Washington D.C.?" asked Effie Harrison.

Harrison posed that question as she watched the San Francisco Food Bank make what may be its last delivery to El Bethel, because of reductions in a Federal program that provides these boxes to seniors. The food bank is cutting back upon orders from the state, which administers the federal money.

"This is part of a five year reduction of this program. Five years ago we has 12,000 seniors we could give them to. Now we have 9,600," said Paul Ash, from the San Francisco Food Bank.

"We're not talking fancy foods, but these are really good basic foods that a lot of low income seniors need to stay healthy," said Marguerite Nowak, from the San Francisco Food Bank.

The food bank cut El Bethel because is says there are other services nearby. However, that did not set will with people who have a hard time getting from one floor to another, much less a few blocks.

"I'm not going to go. I'm too old. I can't do that," said Helen Colmeux.

In all, the food bank will cut 440 boxes. What frustrates them is that this move may save the federal government $100,000 in all.

"This says a lot about our priorities. The way we're spending money around the world. The way we're bailing out banks. It seems like we should be able to feed these seniors who have a maximum income of $1,100 a month," said Ash.

With bottom lines and food lines, at El Bethel Senior Center, nobody bought the party line.

"Reach from the senior citizens. It looks like they want us to die. They're trying to starve us. They're trying to get rid of us," said Harrison.


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