Calcasieu Commodity Supplemental Food program offers help for seniors

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Felicia Davis, Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Human Services Department, has seen an uptick in USDA commodity distribution applications, likely due to rising food prices.

Last year around this time, a local grocery advertised a three-to-five pound pack of 80/20 Premium Select Angus ground chuck for $3.39 a pound. Today, ground chuck can cost over $5 per pound at some stores. That’s a 47.5 percent increase, and that’s just one example. Everything has gone up.

In the case of beef, the current administration blames lack of competition between conglomerates. Conglomerates cry pandemic problems, labor shortages, the high price of chemical fertilizers and the rising cost of materials used across the supply and distribution chain.

Folks don’t care nearly as much about assigning blame as they do about putting food on the table. Cooks are getting creative. For the 60 and older crowd, taking advantage of the Calcasieu Parish Commodity Supplemental Food Program might help.

“Some people don’t know about the commodities program, and some know about it but have no way to pick up food,” Davis said. “Qualifying seniors can add the name of an “alternate” to pick up food for them.”

Volunteers are also needed to get the food to those who qualify.

“At the Multipurpose Annex and University Park distribution centers, we desperately need volunteers. The trucks get it there, but we need people to box it up and put it in cars,” Davis said.

The income guideline for a household of one is around $1,500. For a household of two, the income guideline is around $1,900. (Couples can get one box of food each.)

Boxes contain canned meat such as boneless chicken, beef, pork, tuna or beef stew, canned vegetables and fruit, breakfast cereal, cheese, pasta or rice, shelf-stable milk, dry milk, peanut butter, dried beans and fruit juice.

“When new applicants qualify and pick up their first bag of food, they tell us how glad they are we’re here to help because with today’s food prices, they don’t know how they’d make it,” Davis said.

Food is distributed the third Friday of every month to the following sites:

Allen P. August Multi Purpose Annex, 2000 Moeling St., Lake Charles, 8 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (Volunteers needed to get food distributed.)

Bell City/Hayes Fire Station, 8141 Galley Road, Hayes, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

DeQuincy Fire Station/City Hall, 300 N. Holly St., 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Iowa Community Center, 207 W. US 90, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.

Moss Bluff VFW Post #7321, 2668 US 171 & Joe Miller Rd., 8:30 a.m.-10 a.m.

Starks Fire Station, 4747 Evangeline Hwy., Starks, 9 a.m.-11 a.m.

Sulphur Senior Center, 601 Maple St., 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m.

Sulphur Retirement Community, 503 Cypress St., 8 a.m.-9:30 a.m.

Tower Oaks, 222 Louie St., Lake Charles, 11 a.m.-noon

University Park, 1001 Central Park, Lake Charles, 1 p.m.-2p.m.(Volunteers need to get food distributed.)

Vinton Pentecostal Church, 1805 West St., 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Westlake Senior Center, 2001 Jones St., 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

To find out more, call Davis at 337-721-4030, ext. 5111.

The federal government makes these commodities free to those who qualify. It’s up to those who qualify to add a few spices, a little time in the kitchen and a grateful heart full of love to make foods delicious. Here are a few simple recipes.

Call 1-337-494-4072 or email rita.lebleu@americanpress.com to let the American Press know about favorite cooks, chefs, recipes, locally available foods, food events, food trucks and ways to stretch food dollars and dishes. Of particular interest are favorite Thanksgiving stuffing or dressing recipes, photos of the cook and if available, but not necessary, a photo of the dish.

HEARTY PEA SALAD

1 15 oz can peas, drained

1 cup American cheese, cubed

½ cup celery

½ cup onion

½ cup light mayo or salad dressing

2 Tbsp pickle, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine ingredients

Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix well and chill for at least an hour.

CANNED PORK & VEGETABLE SOUP

Can of pork

5 carrots, medium, sliced thin

½ cup celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

2 tsp onion powder

1 14.5 oz can tomatoes

1 large potato, medium cubes

32 oz chicken broth

1 ½ tsp chili powder

1 ½ tsp ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Chop the veggies and garlic

Drain the pork.

Dump all the ingredients into the pot.

Bring to a boil on high heat then reduce to simmer.

It’s ready when the potatoes and carrots are tender.

SPICY PEANUT BUTTER RAMEN

2 Tbsp peanut butter

1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 3 oz. packet ramen

1 green onion, sliced

Combine the first three ingredients until it forms a smooth paste.

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Once it is boiling, stir a quarter of the water into the paste.

Add the ramen noodles (without the seasoning packet) to the boiling water and boil for 2-3 minutes.

Drain the noodles, then return to the pot with the heat turned off. Pour the peanut sauce over the top and stir to combine. Top with sliced onions. (Add other vegetables such as shredded carrots, kale or spinach when noodles are added to the boiling water.)