Verlyn Brown is a Vietnam vet who proudly wears his military service: His hat and t-shirt proclaim his years of Navy service. 

On a drizzly, gray Monday morning, between 100 to 150 senior citizens 60 and older line up outside Harvesters’ partner agency, Metro Lutheran Ministry, at 3031 Holmes St. to pick up food from the Commodity Supplement Food Program for low-income seniors.  

One in eight older adults (50-59) and one in 12 seniors (60+) in the Kansas City metro are food insecure. A CSFP box includes canned vegetables, shelf stable milk, cereal, fruits and juices, protein, pasta, peanut butter, rice, beans and cheese. 

A monthly mobile distribution of fresh produce is timed to supplement the nonperishable items, allowing seniors to make the most of their trip. 

Brown is there with a friend to pick up senior commodity boxes for himself and his fellow veterans. The fit 73-year-old likes to stay in shape. He still works out at least three times a week. He still regularly lifts weights and plays one-on-one basketball with his son.  

“I try to be as healthy as possible at my age, and I don’t eat no canned goods. And you’ve been having more fresh vegetables, which is good,” he says. “Today is good because you can get vegetables, because usually it’s just canned goods. I mean, I get what they give me but it’s nice to get the fresh stuff.” 

Brown is grateful to receive fresh green onions. He’d like to see more turnips, collard and mustard greens.  

But without the support of Harvesters, Brown and many veterans like him would have a hard time making ends meet. 

“It would be tough. A lot of them rely on it,” Brown says.