Homebound Elders to Get Emergency Food
July 9, 2007
Nearly 1,000 Meals on Wheels Program participants in Contra Costa will be receiving an emergency meal package in July and August to sustain them when a disaster prevents regular deliveries.
The E-Pack contains six nutritious, high quality, shelf-stable meals. The deliveries will be made by Contra Costa Health Services' (CCHS) Public Health Nutritionists Kathy Jackson Moore and Jackie Winfield. They will also provide a one-on-one orientation to the Meals on Wheels participants and assistance in selecting appropriate storage locations.* All new Meals on Wheels Program participants will receive an E-Pack and all E-Packs will be replaced every six months, at which time program participants can consume the meals from their previous E-Pack.
"We have been working on this project for months, realizing that people who get meals from our program count on us and if we couldn't get through because of an earthquake or influenza pandemic, they would still need to eat," explains Liz Vargas, Operations Manager for CCHS' Senior Nutrition Program.
The $48,000 annual cost for the project is funded by contributions and foundation grants received by Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa, Inc., a charitable nonprofit organization which recently celebrated two milestones: subsidizing more than 1 million meals delivered to homebound Contra Costa elders and raising more than $2 million since 1990 to provide the meals.
Vargas, who spearheaded the project for CCHS' Senior Nutrition Program, says the home delivered meals are critical for the health and well-being of seniors, many of whom have no contact with any one except the 400 volunteers who drive the routes and deliver meals five days a week.
"The volunteers are a life line for the homebound. They bring them food - sometimes the only food they have all day - and visit with them. During a disaster, this homebound population may be alone and frightened and we're doing what we can to help them prepare," says Vargas.
Besides the E-Pack, CCHS is working on a comprehensive plan for a pandemic flu outbreak, when many people may be too ill to report to work and residents could be on their own for days. They have conducted a number of exercises and drills to practice parts of the plan.
* Ride alongs will be available for the media by appointment.
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- Liz Vargas