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The federal government funds a number of food assistance programs for people with a limited income. The programs are operated by state and local agencies using nationwide eligibility rules. 

Food programs that are funded by the federal government through state agencies include:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): formerly known as Food Stamps. 
  • Meal delivery programs serving people who are basically homebound and who meet local eligibility requirements.  
    • Eligibility requirements vary by local program. 
    • For information, contact the Eldercare Locator at 800.677.1116, or your local disease specific nonprofit organization.
  • Nutrition Program for the Elderly (NPE). 
  • Free food packets for needs-based program recipients. 
    • For information, contact the needs-based program from which you receive benefits.
  • Food purchase vouchers for low income pregnant women and to infants and children up to age 5. 
  • School breakfast, lunch, and summer vacation meals. 
    • For information, contact your children's school.
  • Food stocking of nonprofit group homes and pantries. 

For more information on the various programs, see the following site of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which administers most of the nutrition programs): offsite link.

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Nutrition Program For The Elderly (NPE)

The Nutrition Program for the Elderly (NPE) assists elderly Americans by providing nutritious meals in a variety of settings including the individual’s home.

If you are age 60 or older, you are eligible for the program and so is your spouse, even if he or she isn't 60 years old.

Age is the only factor used to decide if you are eligible. You do not have to meet any income limits to receive meals under the program.

Neighborhood centers for the elderly serve well-balanced, hot or cold meals at least once a day, five days a week. When possible, transportation is offered to and from the sites for people who need it. Home-delivered meals, usually called “Meals on Wheels,” are provided to elderly people who are homebound.

The Elderly Nutrition Program also provides a range of related services, including nutrition screening, assessment, education and counseling. These services help older participants to identify their general and special nutrition needs, as they may relate to health concerns.

The Elderly Nutrition Program also provides a link to other supportive in-home and community-based services such as homemaker-home health aide services, transportation, fitness programs, and even home repair and home modification programs.

NPE is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services through each state’s Agency on Aging. To obtain food under NPE, contact your local Agency on Aging or your nearest community senior center. Your Area Agency on Aging is listed in the government section of the phone directory usually under "aging" or "elderly" services. To locate an Agency on Aging, call: 800.677.1116.