High Plains Food Bank staffers are trying to feed senior adults in Amarillo, Canyon and the surrounding areas - if they can find them.
Since October, the Amarillo nonprofit has partnered with the Texas Department of Agriculture to provide the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. Each month, seniors who qualify for the program receive a 25-to-30 pound box of food, which is intended to be a healthy addition to meals they prepare at home when their other food is running low.
High Plains Food Bank is allocated 2,000 boxes per month but is only doling out about 750 to 800 boxes.
"We feel like we could reach the 2,000 just in Amarillo and Canyon without reaching out to these other areas, but we've run into a few problems getting the news to people," said Brandon Landelius, the food bank's CSFP coordinator.
Although technology runs rampant in almost everyone's society, it seems to be missing many senior adults who could use the extra food.
"We run into problems (just) with phone calls because sometimes a lot of these older people they’re going to have their phone shut off so they can buy their medication or they can pay for their doctor bills or they can buy food," Landelius said. "So getting in touch with them is not the easiest thing. If they can’t pay for medication and doctor bills, they’re not going to have internet.
"They’re probably not going to have a phone so it’s word of mouth; they hear something on the radio or see something on television or read it in the newspaper."
Emily Bell is the communications and marketing manager at High Plains Food Bank.
"These people aren’t sitting there after a busy workday and scrolling (on their phone) looking at Facebook and catching up on their social media," she said. "They are isolated. They are 10 steps behind that (social media contact)."
But the High Plains Food Bank keeps trying. The program that started in Amarillo has spread south to Canyon, Tulia, Dimmitt and Nazareth. It has gone north to Borger and east to Hedley and Claude.
The nonprofit will be hosting what it calls a qualifying event on Friday in Childress and on Aug. 15 in Pampa. The events are to attract local seniors and gauge the level of need in each community and nearby area.
Based upon interest and turnout at the events, the food bank will determine the feasibility of providing the CSFP on a monthly basis. Seniors who qualify for the program will receive a box of food during that day's distribution event. The box of supplemental food costs between $60 and $70.
The event in Childress will be from 10 a.m. to noon at Childress Hope4U's food pantry at 1310 Ave. H NW. The event in Pampa will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Pampa Salvation Army at 701 S. Cuyler St.
Seniors who want to be in the program need to bring a form of identification and proof of income, which includes Social Security letter, pay stub from previous month, income tax return, bank statement or a supplemental security income letter. The program is for seniors who live at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, the food bank stated.
"The growth (of the program) is a little slower because we are struggling with how to reach people," Landelius said. "We’ve asked for tips and recommendations from folks" at the Texas Department of Agriculture.
But he is hopeful.
"The numbers have been increasing every month," he said.