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Local nonprofits collaborate to deliver groceries to homebound seniors 

By the end of the year, the organizations anticipate that 300 households per week will benefit from this program.

–A Feeding America grant is making it possible for three local social service organizations to work together to deliver free, weekly groceries to SLO County’s most isolated community members.

The SLO Food Bank, Wilshire Community Services, and Ride-On Transportation will collaborate to meet the challenging needs of seniors who struggle to access food because of transportation and financial barriers. This program, which will expand routes countywide this year, will provide weekly grocery deliveries-including shelf-stable foods, fresh produce, and proteins – directly to the homes of low-income, homebound seniors. Income is one barrier, and another is access. These older adults are typically homebound and isolated, with few transportation options or support systems, especially with safety concerns regarding COVID-19.

“Our goal is to decrease food insecurity while increasing nutrition and health for homebound seniors in our community,” says Andrea Keisler, community programs director at the SLO Food Bank. “We are thrilled with this partnership, which utilizes the strengths of each agency to meet this community need.”

While the SLO Food Bank community is comprised of an extensive network of agency partners and direct distributions, most services require participants to visit a specific pantry, meal site, or food distribution to pick up food. This may be a barrier for those in the community who lack reliable access to transportation or who have mobility issues. The global pandemic and stay-at-home orders have also reinforced the need for a delivery model for our most isolated community members.

Partnering with Wilshire Community Services is a natural fit, as Wilshire currently has the infrastructure to serve older adults in San Luis Obispo County in-home, including services like counseling, transportation, mental health support, and friendly visits. Wilshire’s Jen Kaplan shares, “Throughout the COVID pandemic, we’ve gotten more calls from older adults that are struggling with food insecurity; this partnership is a great way to make sure seniors are getting their basic food and safety needs met.” While the SLO Food Bank operates over 60 neighborhood distributions across the county per month, a plan to add additional routes for home delivery without extra staff or fleet assets became daunting. For this reason, partnering with Ride-On Transportation for the logistical leg of this program is a smart choice.

Wilshire Community Services will provide intake and case management, SLO Food Bank will procure, store and pack groceries, and Ride-On Transportation will deliver groceries directly to homes on a weekly basis. By the end of the year, the organizations anticipate that 300 households per week will benefit from this program.

To find out if you or someone you know qualifies for this program, please contact Jennifer Kaplan at Wilshire Community Services or (805) 547-7025 ext. 2216.

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