Choose One: Utility Bills, Prescription Drugs or Food?
Another compassionate plan from the current president:
The boxes arrive every month at churches, senior citizen centers, and other sites for distribution to nearly a half-million poor elderly people. Each is stocked with a mix of foods such as cereal, peanut butter, fruit, vegetables, and pasta. Sometimes volunteers deliver them to seniors' homes.
Now President Bush wants to eliminate the program, one of 141 federal initiatives that his proposed new budget would scrap or cut dramatically. He is proposing to shift people in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program over to food stamps.
''It really does come under the category, in the most extreme way, of balancing the budget on the backs of those who are most needy," said Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations agriculture subcommittee. ''And in this case we're not even balancing the budget.
USDA statistics indicate that just 28 percent of seniors eligible for food stamps participate in the program.
Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force, which administers the program in Milwaukee, said the commodity program helps seniors stretch their food-buying budget.
''Sometimes seniors are choosing between utility bills and prescription drugs and whether they get to eat," she said.