New Partnerships to Bring Food to Older Adults

There is nothing more basic to our humanity than the need for food. When the results from a recent LifeSTEPS resident survey showed over 50% of our seniors were food insecure here in the Sacramento area, we knew something had to be done.

Experiences working with older adults has shown there are multiple reasons a senior may be food insecure. Often seniors just have very little disposable income to use for food after other basics like housing and health care are paid for. They will choose to stay housed and continue to take life-saving medicines on their meager fixed incomes — their grocery list will be the first thing they cut.

Another key factor in obtaining groceries is transportation. Older adults have an extremely difficult time since many have given up their vehicles due to either age or lack of income. Navigating the bus system to get groceries is tricky — especially when you are older and frail. And there are some older residents who simply are homebound — they are physically unable to leave their apartments.

Here in Sacramento we are blessed to have several great non-profits that help thousands of Sacramento low income residents to have additional food resources. We are working with both Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services and River City Food Bank to bring our residents food.  Recently our Sacramento Director of Social Services, Monique Osborn, facilitated a partnership with the River City Food Bank’s Food Commodity Program. LifeSTEPS has collaborated with River City Food Bank to open food distribution programs at four SHRA properties and out of 178 eligible 60+ seniors, 125 seniors are now receiving boxes of food and bags of perishables!

There were a few obstacles that LifeSTEPS staff had to work through in starting up the Food Commodities Program, such as how to help those seniors who could not carry a food box from the community room to their apartment. We now have resident volunteers to assist. Another difficulty was the sign up process. Some seniors were not able to come to the center to sign up, so LifeSTEPS staff, alongside two representatives from RCFB, went door to door to sign them up. If seniors were not going to be home or were homebound, they met with their caretakers. One by one they took every opportunity to spread the word and allow all in need to participate.

The rewards have been heartwarming and tangible. Neighbors are helping each other with getting their food boxes — building trusting relationships in the process and seniors like Lorraine are very grateful for the help. “I’m so happy you found a way to get us food. We have been in need for so long.” –Lorraine (Pine Knoll)

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