Local Social Service Organizations Collaborate to Deliver Groceries to Homebound Seniors •

SLO food bank, Wilshire community services and carpooling meet the needs of seniors

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY – Thanks to a grant from Feeding America, three local organizations can work together to provide free food each week to the most isolated members of the community in SLO County.

The SLO Food Bank, Wilshire Community Services and Ride-On Transportation will work together to meet the complex needs of seniors who have difficulty accessing food due to financial and transportation barriers. The program, whose routes will expand across the country this year, delivers food, including stable foods, fresh produce and protein, directly to low-income nursing homes each week with home visits.

Income is one barrier and the other is access. These older people are generally homebound and isolated, with few transportation options or support systems, including safety COVID-19.

Our goal is to reduce food insecurity while improving the nutrition and health of seniors returning to our community. We are excited about this partnership that uses the strengths of both organizations to meet the needs of the community, said Andrea Keisler, Director of Community Programs for the SLO Food Bank.

Although the SLO food bank community consists of an extensive network of partner organizations and direct distribution, most services require participants to go to a designated food bank, meal center, or food bank to pick up food. This can be a barrier for community members who do not have reliable access to transportation or who have mobility issues. With the global pandemic and home delivery, the need for a delivery model for the most isolated members of our community has also increased.

The partnership between the SLO Food Bank and Wilshire Community Services is a natural fit, as Wilshire currently has the infrastructure in place to help San Luis Obispo County seniors in their homes, including services such as counseling, transportation, mental health services and friendly visitation. Jen Kaplan of Wilshire shares: During the COWID pandemic, we received an increasing number of calls from elderly people who were food insecure. This partnership is an excellent way to ensure that the basic food and safety needs of seniors are met. Although the SLO Food Bank serves more than 60 distribution points across the country each month, the plan to add additional home delivery routes without hiring additional staff or a fleet of vehicles has become daunting. That is why the cooperation with Ride-On Transportation for the logistics part of this program is a wise choice.

Wilshire Community Services will provide intake and case management, the SLO Food Bank will purchase, store and package the food, and Ride-On Transportation will deliver the food directly to households each week. By the end of the year, we hope to have 300 households a week benefiting from this program.

To find out if you or someone you know is eligible for this program, please contact Jennifer Kaplan at Wilshire Community Services jkaplan@wilshirehcs.org or 805-547- 7025 ext. 2216.

Well, uh… The SLO Food Bank is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that provides food to all of San Luis Obispo County through its direct food programs and its network of partner organizations. The mission of the SLO Food Bank is to fight hunger in San Luis Obispo County and build a healthier community. The SLO Food Bank distributes an average of 4 million pounds of food each year to help our neighbors fight hunger. Almost half of the food provided is fresh produce, including food collected locally through the GleanSLO program. For more information about the work of the SLO Food Bank in San Luis Obispo County, please visit www.slofoodbank.org.

Well, uh… Wilshire Community Services is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization established to meet a range of needs by creating a safe and supportive community for the elderly population of San Luis Obispo County. Our team of dedicated clinicians, staff and volunteers was created by the community to provide mental health services, home support, transportation, friendly visitation and conflict resolution to people facing the challenges of aging. Wilshire Community Services is an agency of Wilshire Health and Community Services, which includes clinical and social-emotional support services through Wilshire Hospice and Wilshire Home Health.

Well, uh… Ride-On Transportation is part of United Cerebral Palsy of San Luis Obispo County. Ride-On’s mission is to provide safe and efficient transportation to social service agencies and their members. Ride-On was founded in 1993 to provide transportation to disabled, senior citizens, veterans, farmworkers, mentally challenged and low-income drivers. Ride-On operates 102 vans and buses with 48 drivers serving San Luis Obispo County and traveling to the Santa Maria area. For more information about Ride-On, visit ride-on.org or call (805) 541-8747.

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