Key Takeaways

  • Every year, NISC's annual Programs of Excellence Awards honor and promote the outstanding programs offered by senior centers across the country.

  • Learn more about Traveling Pantry, a 2022 Programs of Excellence Award Honorable Mention in the Nutrition category.

NISC Programs of Excellence 

  • Year Awarded: 2022
  • Programs of Excellence Name: Traveling Pantry
  • Hosting Organization: S.C.O.P.E. Senior Citizens Services (Senior Citizens Opportunity for Personal Endeavors), Trumbull County, Ohio
  • Trumbull County Population: 203,231
  • 60+ Population: 55,649
  • Senior Center Members: 4,400

About Traveling Pantry

At a Trumbull County food summit, S.C.O.P.E. (Senior Citizens Opporunity for Personal Endeavors) staff earned that at the local food pantry, older adults often were not able to carry the senior boxes due to the weight of around 35 to 40 pounds. That's when S.C.O.P.E. decided to get a van and make the deliveries to the older adults' homes and apartments. 

A pilot program to support those who cannot get out of their homes or they live in a food desert as described by the USDA, the S.C.O.P.E. Traveling Pantry delivers basic food and groceries to the poorest homebound and disabled older adult residents in Ohio's Trumbull County.

Food deliveries are made every month to clients' homes or apartments. Background-checked volunteers take the heavy food boxes directly into older adults' kitchens. And the volunteers deliver food provided through a grant by the USDA through its CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program).  For those just over the federal poverty guideline, S.C.O.P.E. picks up food bags from the local Salvation Army to deliver to others not eligible for the CSFP program. Volunteers pick up the food from the local food bank warehouse and then make the deliveries directly to the seniors on preplanned routes.    

The Traveling Pantry's original partners were Second Harvest Food Bank, Warren Family Mission, and the Trumbull County Health District.  During the pandemic the Warren Family Mission dropped the program, which then was picked up by the Warren Salvation Army who allowed space at their facility to house the food. Volunteers from several recovery facilities bag the food for delivery.  S.C.O.P.E. received a COVID-19 grant through the Ohio Department of Aging for a new passenger/ cargo van in 2023. This will help increase deliveries especially with produce, dairy, meat products, and even hot meals.

Key takeaways from Traveling Pantry:

  • The Traveling Pantry made 3,096 deliveries in 2022
  • The program's organizers expanded to new populations by partnering with churches, especially those located in the minority community
  • Key partners are the food bank, which provides the location to store the CSFP boxes, and Salvation Army for the food bags until volunteers are ready to make the deliveries. Vantage Aging provides the driver delivery personnel who are paid a government training program for senior citizens stipend, but does not cost the senior center anything. 

About S.C.O.P.E

S.C.O.P.E. Senior Citizen Services operates six centers located in various communities in Trumbull County that offer activities and programming to adults 50 and older. The agency's programs range "from nutrition, health, and exercise programs to social events, in a clean, safe environment for older adults to convene and enjoy life with dignity."