Apr 11, 2020 - Health

Groceries on wheels: Seniors get new help during coronavirus

Illustration of an senior citizen holding a small bag of groceries

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Many L.A. residents, including those over 60, can have their groceries delivered by taxi free of charge. In Smyrna, Georgia, police officers are dropping off groceries.

Why it matters: Senior citizens, people with disabilities, and people with compromised immune systems face additional challenges in safely getting groceries during this coronavirus pandemic, and some communities are redirecting resources to deliver necessities.

Instacart and other services offer grocery delivery for a fee. Grocery stores are offering online orders, but typically require in-person pick-up.

  • For anyone in an at-risk group, especially if they're on a fixed income, neither of these solutions are ideal.

What's happening: Individuals have stepped up to create networks to match people who need deliveries with those who can make them. In some cases, municipalities are exploring how existing resources could fill in this gap.

  • L.A. County has a program that uses taxis to transport senior citizens and residents with disabilities to appointments. This week, the county began using that same infrastructure to offer free grocery and meal delivery up to four times a month.
  • Smyrna Police Department Sergeant Louis Defense III helped to start a grocery and medicine delivery program that also launched this week and serves seniors, people with disabilities, and vulnerable residents.

What they're saying: "There are so many agencies who can do the same thing," Sergeant Defense told Axios. "Our academies are closed right now, and we have rookies that need something to do. This steeps them in our philosophy of true community-oriented policing."

  • L.A. County acting director of workforce development, aging and community services Otto Solórzano also encouraged others to think creatively. "There are transportation systems that have been funded by the federal government. I think many of those vehicles, because they are not being utilized right now, can be repurposed to deliver meals to individuals that need it."
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