The Falmouth Service Center and Falmouth Senior Center have teamed up to deliver food to seniors through the Service Center To Go Grocery program.
“We’ve set up this amazing partnership with the Falmouth Senior Center, who is reaching out to all of the seniors in their database, checking in on them and seeing who needs food,” said Kerin Delaney, acting executive director of the Falmouth Service Center. “It’s crucial. We have a huge number of seniors on the Cape, so as much as possible we want to keep them home, and safe and not going to the grocery store.”
The Falmouth Service Center is preparing bags full of groceries, which Falmouth Senior Center staff is delivering to the doorsteps of house-bound seniors. The program is available to Falmouth residents ages 60 and older. Seniors interested in participating in the food delivery program can contact the Falmouth Senior Center at 508-540-0196.
“Of all the essential services we are supporting, food is one of the most critical needs,” senior center director Jill Irving Bishop said. “Because food is such an essential need right now, we needed to use our driver and our resources to serve the needs of the community.”
While many grocery stores are offering senior hours, this food delivery program further reduces a senior citizen’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, as the food is brought directly to their house.
“We’re trying everything we can to keep seniors out of those lines,” Ms. Delaney said.
The deliveries also support seniors who cannot drive to the grocery store or are otherwise home-bound. As part of this partnership, Falmouth Senior Center staff are delivering the food normally delivered by the service center’s home food delivery program.
The food is delivered in a socially distant fashion. Seniors are notified via phone call prior to delivery to let them know the groceries are on the way. The staff delivering the food wear masks and other protective equipment.
“We notify seniors that we are coming, but there is no physical interaction,” Ms. Irving Bishop said. “We deliver right to the doorstep, and there is a wave from inside to confirm they’ve got the goods.”
In the case of housing complexes, the groceries are labelled and delivered to the building manager, who distributes the bags to participating seniors.
“Between March 20 until April 15, we have delivered 612 bags of food, so far,” Ms. Irving Bishop said.
Service center staff package the bags on Mondays and Wednesdays. Senior center staff deliver the bags on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
As of Wednesday,April 15, more than 200 seniors had signed up for the food delivery program. Each week they receive a variety of groceries, including a fresh produce bag, as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner staples.
“Today, for instance, the fresh produce bag had apples in it, a fresh chicken, milk, eggs and a vegetable,” Ms. Irving Bishop said.
Ms. Delaney said the bags contain a mix of perishable and non-perishable items. Common items included in the deliver bags include soups, cereal, tuna, rice, beans, pastas, peanut butter and jelly.
“We’re putting in paper goods where we can,” Ms. Delaney said, including both toilet paper and paper towels.
In addition to providing seniors with groceries, Ms. Irving Bishop said, the program allows senior center staff to check in with local seniors via the phone. In this time of social distancing and isolation, this gives home-bound seniors a chance to talk with someone.
“We remind them that they are not alone, and if they are feeling anxious or isolated, to give us a call,” she said. “We have trained staff who can help them get through that.”
Though the senior center is closed to the public, the building remains staffed and employees are on hand to assist seniors via phone and email. In addition to the Service Center To Go Grocery program, senior center staff can connect seniors with Elder Services programs like Meals on Wheels.