In our personal and our professional lives, we have all been challenged to find ways to adapt to the circumstances we’ve been facing over the past months. That holds true for our work at AARP Foundation.
You will find information here and elsewhere on our site about the ways we have adapted existing programs to address the necessities of physical distancing. For example, several of our workforce programs have introduced or expanded virtual workshops and other resources, and our Connect2Affect platform is providing more tools and online supports to help socially isolated older adults stay connected.
Food assistance has been especially crucial, with many organizations overwhelmed by the numbers of those seeking help. At the Foundation, we realized the quickest way we could address that need would be to reach out to those we are already serving or who volunteer in our own programs like Experience Corps, and also to our senior housing and other community partners where we knew many residents were in critical need of food assistance. We knew that working through these channels would help us reach vulnerable older adults quickly and efficiently and was the best choice as part of an overall rapid-response strategy to deal with the extraordinary circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Thanks to the generous help of United Health Foundation, we were able, in very short order, to arrange for the delivery of emergency food boxes to those older adults who our partners and program staff had identified as being in dire need. Each box contains essential non-perishable food items that can be made into about two weeks’ worth of nutritious meals. The food boxes and the delivery to the recipient’s door are completely free of charge.
To date, our emergency assistance has delivered more than 925,000 meals to low-income older adults in 39 states and the District of Columbia. One recipient told us, “I thought I was days away from having to go hungry. I’ve had to go hungry before and I never wanted to do that again.”
We found a way to make this work as an emergency response. Finding the most effective ways to help older adults build economic opportunity and social connections drives every initiative of the Foundation, not just in the circumstances we currently face. When we make those opportunities possible, we help others find their own pathways to resilience and security, and that work will continue no matter what.
Lisa Marsh Ryerson
President, AARP Foundation