The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) in Virginia

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program in Virginia (CSFP) in Virginia is designed for senior citizens at risk of malnutrition. Through CSFP, eligible individuals can receive supplemental food packages on a monthly basis. Many of the VA residents enrolled in this program already receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits or other forms of public assistance. However, SNAP benefits are often not enough for low-income seniors. Receiving a monthly benefit box gives these individuals more nutritional resources and food security. Seniors wondering how to apply to CSFP should note that it is necessary to meet a few criteria first. Eligibility for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program is based mostly on an applicant’s age and income. Those who do not meet the eligibility requirements may find that they do qualify for other forms of public assistance in Virginia, such as SNAP or The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). Learn more about the CSFP qualifications and the application procedures for this program in the sections below.

What is the CSFP in Virginia?

CSFP in Virginia offers similar benefits to other forms of food assistance such as TEFAP, among others. The Commodity Supplement Food Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which purchases food and distributes it to states participating in the program. Once Virginia receives its food allotment, items are distributed to food banks. Food is then boxed up and made available for senior residents in need. Virginia CSFP packages contain a variety of items that help participants meet their nutritional needs. Boxes do not contain all of the food a person would need for a month, but they are filled with nutritious items that help seniors supplement their diets.

Virginia only became a CSFP participant in 2016, so it is still a relatively new option for low-income seniors. Since the Virginia Commodity Supplemental Food Program was developed recently, benefits are not available at all food pantries and other distributors in the state yet. As the program grows, it will likely be implemented on a wider scale, making the program available to more individuals.

Eligibility for CSFP in Virginia

In order to qualify for CSFP in Virginia, you must have a low income and meet the age requirements. CSFP used to be open to women, infants and children in the past, but that is no longer the case. Currently, you must meet the minimum age requirement to enroll. As an exception, women, infants and children may remain in the program if they were enrolled prior to being excluded from the CSFP eligibility requirements. Since the Commodity Supplement Food Program stopped accepting women, infants and children in 2014, this rule only applies if you received commodity supplement benefits in a different state before moving to Virginia.

You can apply for CSFP in Virginia if you meet the age requirement and have a low income. Currently, CSFP is only available if you are in poverty. Since the program is designed for people with nutritional risk, you may need to have your dietary needs assessed as well before receiving benefits.

Learn more about eligibility for the Commodity Supplement Food Program by downloading our guide on social services in Virginia.

How to Apply for CSFP in Virginia

Since CSFP was only adopted recently in Virginia, there is not an online portal for applying yet. As the Commodity Supplemental Food Program in Virginia is administered by food banks, you may contact your local food bank organization for information on applying. You can also ask about applying for CSFP by contacting the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), which oversees the program statewide. It is also possible for to receive referrals from other social programs. Food shelves get referrals from programs such as the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and other organizations on a regular basis. If you are eligible for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and currently receive help from a different public assistance program, then you may ask the coordinator for assistance in getting benefits.

Benefits Offered by CSFP in Virginia

The main function of the Commodity Supplemental Food Program is to provide monthly boxes of food items. CSFP packages can either be picked up at participating food shelf locations or delivered right to a participant’s door. This is different from other food assistance programs in Virginia, which allow enrollees to purchase food using an electronic benefits transfer card. In addition to nutritional supplements, the program also offers educational materials on good nutrition. Nutritional needs change with age. The VA CSFP program helps beneficiaries understand their dietary needs as they get older.

How to Use Virginia CSFP Benefits

While the Commodity Food Supplemental Program offers a variety of foods, it is important to be aware that deliveries do not include all of the food you will need for the month. Even with a CSFP box, you will benefit from having additional sources of nutrition to meet all of your dietary needs. Packages contain food that you must cook or prepare yourself. In other words, the program is not a meal delivery service. To help you prepare the items you receive, the USDA offers a variety of recipes and food information sheets. Learn more about using your CSFP benefits and food items by downloading our public assistance guide.

Virginia Department of Social Services