LCSC To Launch Door To Door Food Delivery To Seniors

Food Service Coordinator John Moran begins loading for deliveries.

With funding from United Way of Greater Cleveland, Lakewood Community Services Center is about to launch its first-ever food delivery program to the four senior living complexes in Lakewood. “We pay careful attention to our service statistics,” said Executive Director Trish Rooney. “We saw an upward year over year trend in overall senior numbers, but a reduction in the number of seniors coming to the Center from the Westerly, the South Westerly, Fedor Manor and Lakeshore Towers. We attributed this to two factors: our move from Marlowe put us out of easy walking distance from two of the buildings; and the discontinuation of the RTA Circulator made getting to and from the Center almost impossible for seniors without their own cars.”  With these service statistics and data indicating that most if not all residents live on a fixed income, LCSC talked with the building managers at each apartment to measure interest in a delivery program. The enthusiasm was unanimous. The buildings' service coordinators shared stories of residents who often found themselves very short of food by the end of the month after their monthly Social Security income was expended.

LCSC submitted a proposal to United Way in February 2011 and received news in late June that the proposal to extend its emergency food assistance program had been fully funded. This first-ever United Way of Greater Cleveland award has allowed LCSC to purchase a brand new Ford Econoline van and to provide salary dollars for the Center's Food Service Coordinator to add the additional hours to oversee the program.

The new program kicks off at an informational meeting and sign up on September 7 at the Westerly Apartments. The first delivery is scheduled for Friday, September 16 and will continue on the third Friday of each month. Residents who sign up will receive a minimum three-day supply of groceries delivered right to their apartment door every month. “We decided to pilot the program at the Westerly Apartments because it is the largest of the senior buildings and we figured if we can get it right at the Westerly, we'll be in good shape for the smaller buildings,” according to Rooney. The City of Lakewood Department of Human Services staff who are on site at the Westerly will be helping to get things off the ground successfully.

Volunteers at LCSC will begin packing the van with individual grocery bags as soon as the Center closes its open hours. Frozen items and those requiring refrigeration will be added at the last minute. The Center has entered into a partnership with the City’s youth volunteer program, H20. The door to door deliveries could have been a logistic headache withwith 492 units located in three buildings with up to 15 floors to navigate if H2O had not enthusiastically embraced this service opportunity for its high school members. “When Trish approached H20 to see if we would be interested in participating, we jumped at the opportunity,” said Ceil Dorsch Progam manager. She further stated that H2O has a long history of collaboration with LCSC and we have always been successful with our intergenerational programs.” “This service will be great not only for the students but for the seniors as well. We are really looking forward to getting started!” added Emmie Hutchenson, H20 supervisor.

Once the first delivery is accomplished, LCSC along with the Westerly's service coordinators and the H2O team, will review what worked and what didn't and the service will be tweaked and extended to the other three buidlings. The plan is to have the Westerly and South Westerly on the same route with Fedor Manor and Lakeshore Towers on a second route each month.

In addition to these deliveries, the United Way funding also enables LCSC to make frequent trips to the Cleveland Foodbank's daily Marketplace where free and extremely reduced-price food items are available to agencies who can pick up and transport themselves. This is a wonderful opportunity to extend the shrinking County and federal food allocation dollars that LCSC currently receives and provides some variety in the product LCSC can offer to its consumers. “With County funding flat despite a big increase in demandand federal dollars  almost disappearing, having the ability to access this additional food is really important to our mission,” said Rooney. “We are grateful to United Way for making this possible at a time when our community needs this assistance more than ever before and we hope to grow the program in the coming years.”

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Volume 7, Issue 17, Posted 8:32 AM, 08.24.2011