Fighting Hunger

History of the Food Program

Shortly after founding Focus: HOPE, Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis decided to use intelligent and practical action to do something about poverty in their community. Armed with studies that demonstrated the permanent damaging effects of malnutrition on infants and young children, they advocated for the fledgling Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which was administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and provided nutritious foods to young mothers and their infants and pre-school children. 

By 1971, Focus: HOPE was the agency designated to distribute food throughout metropolitan Detroit.  The co-founders became national advocates for the program -- a leadership role that continues today. In the mid-1970s, the co-founders began lobbying Congress to expand the program to include senior citizens struggling to survive on meager incomes.  Largely because of Focus: HOPE's efforts, the food program was expanded in 1982 to include seniors.  Senior citizens now make up the vast majority of program participants. 

Today, mothers and senior citizens who meet the income requirements obtain a monthly allocation of food. It ensures that infants get formula and young children get nutritious foods. For senior citizens, it means they won't have to choose between prescriptions and food. This program is so successful that it is now available in 39 states.

Food is available at four locations in the Detroit metropolitan area. A cadre of volunteers package and deliver the food to homebound senior citizens. Those who can pick up food from one of the food centers are able to "shop" in a grocery-store setting, selecting foods within certain categories -- one way to help those who need the assistance maintain their dignity.

Link to Food Recipes

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