Settling in a new country involves a long process of learning to adapt, and this is often emotionally and financially challenging. Fortunately, resources exist to help when money is tight. The list below is intended to help those on a tight budget relieve some of the pressure of navigating life in a new country.
Maine has more than 300 food pantries, and when it comes to feeding families, food pantries are the first places to turn for nutritious food. Many now include culturally appropriate foods, in addition to non-perishable staples such as grains, and canned goods. Community meals can also be a big help for those on limited incomes.
Some food programs are specifically intended for residents 60 years and older. Most of these programs require proof of Maine residency, but proof of citizenship is not expected.
1. Senior Boxes: The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF) collaborates with organizations statewide to distribute “Senior Boxes” (Commodity Supplemental Food Program) to low-income adults who are 60 years or older. The boxes contain nutritious foods approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To find the organization that serves your county, visit DACF website www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/tefap/supplemental_food.shtml or call (207) 287-3200.
2. Community Meals: Numerous organizations offer nutritious meals in a social setting. Some of those programs are oriented toward older adults, such as the Community Café organized by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging. Others, like Wayside Community Meals and the Preble Street Resource Center Soup Kitchen, are open for all ages. These community meals offer healthy food and an opportunity for socializing. Some food pantries also offer community meals – if they do not, many can provide information about nearby community meals. Sometimes community meals offer culturally specific food.
3. Meal Deliveries: Many food pantries set up “mobile food pantries” when the pandemic began to allow communities with limited access to transportation to continue accessing healthy food. For adults 60 and over, and adults with disabilities who are primarily homebound, or have difficulty getting out, meal deliveries are an opportunity to eat nutritious meals every day. Meals on Wheels, a national meal delivery program, is a program of the Area Agencies on Aging in Maine. In recognition of the diversity of Maine’s aging population, organizations such as the Southern Maine Agency on Aging offer culturally sensitive meals. To see if you qualify for meal deliveries, contact your local Area Agency on Aging by calling (877) 353-3771.
4. Maine Senior FarmShare: The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry offers an income-based program for residents, ages 60 and over. Eligible adults receive a $50-share of high-quality, fresh produce from a local farm at no cost. A local Area Agency on Aging can sign you up (see phone number above) or call the Maine Senior FarmShare Program, (207) 446-5550.