Partnership aims to tackle food insecurity among seniors through grocery deliveries

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Posted at 10:29 AM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 10:29:50-04

LANSING, Mich. — The Food Bank Council of Michigan – in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – recently received a Feeding America Boundless Collaborations grant to support a statewide grocery delivery program for older adults facing food insecurity.

The grant initiates a feasibility study and project model, which sets the path for statewide implementation, according to a news release Wednesday.

“To reach older adults in need, particularly those who live in remote areas or for whom food access is a challenge, we must work together on a statewide level versus within a single service area,” said Dawn Opel, director of research and strategic initiatives at FBCM. “We can build infrastructure to serve the most vulnerable and dramatically reduce the percentage of food insecure seniors. This model of food security could potentially serve as a national model of change, delivering healthy foods to seniors’ doorsteps.”

Senior food insecurity became more visible during the COVID-19 pandemic, as older adults were particularly vulnerable to the virus, unable to leave their homes and were also left without support services like congregate meals.

Food Bank Council officials say that without an existing collaboration between the state’s food banks, government and volunteer programs, senior citizens fell victim to food insecurity.

“The grocery delivery service supported by the Feeding America grant will be a great benefit to Michigan seniors facing food insecurity,” said Paul D. Cunningham, state director of AARP Michigan. “Food insecurity became a more acute problem during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for this age group.”

Michigan’s food banks delivered more than $1 million in senior food boxes during the pandemic.

MDHHS emphasized the importance of the link between nutritious food and senior health.

“MDHHS strongly believes that no aging Michigander should have to worry about putting food on the table – especially during a pandemic,” said Scott Wamsley, acting director of the department’s Aging & Adult Services Agency. “We will continue to work with partners such as the Food Bank Council of Michigan to address food insecurity.”