Jewish Community Effort to Provide Food for Older Adults

To help ensure that older adults have access to food during the current coronavirus pandemic, CHAI, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, recently launched a new, contactless mobile grocery program.

The program, which includes food and personal hygiene packages dropped off at doorsteps, provides a much-need lifeline to residents of CHAI’s Weinberg Senior Living facilities as well as to seniors living in the neighborhoods that CHAI serves (Cheswolde, Glen, Mt. Washington, Cross Country and Fallstaff and Pikesville).

Every other week, interested clients receive boxes of produce, bread, canned goods and non-food items like toothpaste, dish soap, garbage bags and more. CHAI has partnered with Hungry Harvest, the local nonprofit which sells rescued fruits and vegetables, to provide the produce at a reduced cost.

The program, funded by the Herbert Bearman Foundation, was first introduced to CHAI’s Senior Home Repair clients in April. Now, more than 700 area older adults are benefitting.

“Our main goal is to keep our community safe and well, especially those who are at greatest risk,” explains Tiffany Nicolette, CHAI’s Vice President of Aging in Community.

Since the program began, CHAI has received a number of letters and calls from appreciative residents who express how this has made it easier for them to shelter in place.

Since the pandemic began, CHAI has committed itself to tackling food insecurity among its older adults.

“One gentleman,” recalls Nicolette, “told us that he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the produce. He was so excited because it was enough for a family of four and will last him for the two weeks between deliveries. He said it was ever so perfect because he eats very little meat. The excitement in his voice as he began describing the many dishes that he would make from what we delivered was wonderful and he sincerely sent his thanks to us all.”

The next phase, adds Nicolette, is to expand the deliveries to include Jewish Community Services’ older adult clients.

The mobile grocery program is part of AgeWell Baltimore, a new Centennial initiative of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore. Generously supported by the Russel family, AgeWell Baltimore is an innovative collaboration between The Associated and partner agencies, CHAI, JCS and CHANA. This coordinated person-centered community response supports successful aging and empowers older adults to remain independent and connected.

Future plans include a dedicated phone line and website to provide easy access to the many services and supports available to older adults, their families and caregivers within our system.

Since the pandemic began, CHAI has committed itself to tackling food insecurity among its older adults. In addition to the mobile food delivery program, they have stocked the Weinberg buildings with additional groceries so that residents can purchase much-needed supplies without leaving their buildings.

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