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Age-Friendly Los Angeles City and County, California, Respond to COVID-19

How the community is serving and protecting its older residents

The city of Los Angeles, California, is home to 4 million people, 12 percent of whom are 65 or older. Los Angeles County has an overall population of 10 million with about 1.4 million older adults. A member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities since 2016, the region's age-friendly effort is called the Purposeful Aging Los Angeles Initiative (PALA). 

Meal Site Mapping

Los Angeles Meal Sites for Older Adults


Los Angeles County and City of Los Angeles operate 180 congregate meal sites, all of which closed on March 16 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that older adults continued to receive critically-needed meals, packaged and frozen grab-and-go meals were distributed at meal sites and through delivery services for eating at home.

Community Representatives: 

Avdalyan and Trejo explain how the community is helping its older residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

(Information provided to AARP on May 28, 2020)

The Challenge

“Recognizing that food security would become more challenging for residents who previously received many meals at senior centers, or in other congregate settings, we focused on ensuring the continuity of these services.” 

The Response

“The Los Angeles County Area Agency on Aging and city-based Los Angeles Department of Aging have redefined all of our aging programs to adapt and expand our nutrition services several times over the past two months, being nimble while still foregrounding the safety and care of the older Angelinos we serve. 

The Focus Areas

"We started by working with our city and nonprofit partners that provide meals in congregate settings so we could move them to a grab-and-go model once it became clear that large gatherings might put people at risk. When that time came, instead of eating together at a senior center, for example, people were encouraged to pickup multiple meals at once for eating at home. Having taken early actions meant no one was expecting business as usual and our partners were primed for change.

"We then worked with providers to transform the grab-and-go centers into a home-delivered meal service with the aim of minimizing the number of meal drop-offs per week and increasing the number of meals. This was challenging, especially for the agencies that depended on older adult volunteers and staff who now had to stay home. We also identified new vendors to help us meet the growing demand for home-delivered meals from older adults who previously had family help or were now unable to go to the store without risking exposure to COVID-19. 

Response Partners

"Recognizing that not everyone needs or wants a meal delivered, we developed the Critical Delivery Service, which provides free deliveries for groceries, household items and other necessities for older adults and people with disabilities. The service enables residents to order and pay for their food without having to venture into a grocery store to pick up the order themselves. Participants can receive up to four deliveries per month or the equivalent of 40 miles worth of deliveries.

"On April 24, California Governor Gavin Newson announced the creation of Great Plates Delivered. The program expands the available meal services for in-need seniors and people at elevated risk from COVID-19 by providing meals from local restaurants.

The Results, Thus Far

“Our strong partnership with the Los Angeles city and county Area Agencies on Aging, through Purposeful Aging Los Angeles and other work together, has allowed us to drop silos and focus on serving people irrespective of municipal boundaries. We've been able to increase the scale of our nutrition programs dramatically, which is a particular challenge when transporting meals to homes spread around a county as large as Los Angeles."

Research by Shosanna Preuss  | Article published May 2020

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