Senior Food Box Pilot Program Recap

Elderly woman smiles at the camera

In 2021, Feeding America West Michigan piloted a senior food box program called Golden Groceries. The program provided seniors in need with two boxes containing 50 pounds of shelf-stable, supplemental groceries during the month. The boxes were distributed in partnership with local agencies.

Participants were surveyed throughout the pilot, which gave us crucial insights.

Important Takeaways

Participants enjoyed the program.

🍎 96% enjoyed eating the included canned produce items, and 94% said the food tasted good.

🍋 53% of clients from one agency and 94% from another said Golden Groceries helped them eat more produce each month.

🍊 At one agency, 62% of clients surveyed after the program said their health was good or better, compared to 39% prior to the program.

Participants would like a wider variety of food. Many particularly desired a greater variety of fruits and vegetables.

Participants could use more food. We learned they would like more food to decrease the number of trips they need to take to a grocery store or to another hunger-relief program such as a food pantry—which costs gas and time.

Although 86% of program participants reported having access to a grocery store, over a third said they couldn’t afford to purchase a sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables. If a future iteration of Golden Groceries could provide more food, seniors would be able to stretch their food budget further during the month.

Participants desired additional resources. Some suggestions for those resources were nutrition guides or information about food pantries near them.

Woman smiles while holding a bag of food

Next Steps

Unfortunately, our current space isn’t equipped to make necessary improvements. Due to inadequate space and volunteers at our current facility, the food bank is not continuing or expanding the program—yet. If it makes sense for our partners, clients and staff, we will consider revisiting this program once we move into our new facility. Right now, renovations to that facility are being funded by our Nourish Tomorrow advancement campaign. Until then, our team is reflecting on what we learned from the pilot so we can improve the program going forward.

In the meantime, we’ve partnered with hunger-relief programs providing senior food boxes through a federal program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. Depending on the needs of our clients and partners, we may choose to expand our work with CSFP, as opposed to Golden Groceries, in order to sufficiently meet the needs of seniors in our community. Either way, we will rely on donations and the funds raised through the Nourish Tomorrow advancement campaign to expand services to seniors in need.

Key Senior Food Box Pilot Stats

  1. Cost was found to be the number 1 barrier to accessing fresh produce.
  2. 65% said the experience was “good” or “very good.”
  3. 72 was the average age of participants.
  4. 96% said they know how to eat a well-balanced diet (compared to 88% prior to the program).
  5. 94% of participants at one partner agency said they were eating more fruits and vegetables because of the program.