By Merrie VonSeggern and Gay Reeves
Special to the Town Crier
Over time, the Idyllwild Food distribution program has evolved. Here is a current description of the program.
Idyllwild monthly food distribution serves low-income and senior households. Currently, more than 200 Idyllwild households receive a box of food each month, and more than 25 volunteers prepare the food for distribution.
Food distribution is the first Tuesday of each month in the parking lot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Tollgate Road near its intersection with Highway 243.
Cars may line up on the south side of Tollgate Road (facing Highway 243) as coming from the direction of Idyllwild Arts campus. Distribution starts before 11 a.m., depending on when the truck arrives, and the gate closes at noon. If Monday is a holiday or it rains or snows, delivery is usually moved to the following Friday.
The two programs, USDA Commodities and Senior Food Share, are household-based. One household receives one box of food. Both are administered at the county level by the Second Harvest Food Bank serving Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The USDA Commodities program (also now called the Emergency Food Assistance Program) is for households that fall within its income guidelines, posted at the Idyllwild distribution site. They are currently set at 150 percent of the federal poverty line depending on household size. For a single household, the threshold is $17,505.
No verification of income is required. It is strictly a self-certify program. No donations are solicited or collected for this program.
Senior Food Share is for households with at least one member aged 60 or older. No income criteria are applied for this program. Seniors fill out an application available at the Idyllwild distribution site and are requested to donate a minimum of $6 per year to defray the cost of gas for the delivery truck.
Many seniors are eligible for both programs and will now sign paperwork for both.
Recipients may have their food picked up by someone else if proper paperwork is filled out. The recipient must fill out an Alternate Pick-up Request form (EFA 15) to be turned in each month. On this form, the recipient self-certifies they meet the income guidelines for the program. This form is online at www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/entres/forms/English/EFA15.pdf.
No one may pick up more than four orders, including their own.
While the Idyllwild distribution is at a church, the program is not faith-based and strictly prohibits discrimination of any kind.
State governmental agencies involved in making this food distribution possible include the California Department of Social Services and California Department of Aging. At the federal level, it is part of The Emergency Food Assistance Program administered by the US Department of Agriculture.
The local coordinator for this program is Joe Neu, who can be reached at 951-392-5519.