RiseBoro Community, food hunger, COVID-19, funding, senior citizens, food distribution
RiseBoro Community Partnerships

The Department of Aging is offering meals to seniors citywide through its GetFoodNYC program during the pandemic crisis. But local Brooklyn-based meal delivery services are struggling to keep up with the increased demand for food that fulfills the special dietary needs of seniors, reports Brooklyn Paper.

Seniors are requesting local programs, such as Bushwick’s RiseBoro Community Partnerships and Bay Ridge Center, both of which provide reliable meal delivery services in their communities. Instead, seniors are reporting a lack of communication, low-quality meals or sometimes no delivery at all.

“If they have one client, who is, say, a vegetarian, and also has trouble chewing their food, a local organization is able to respond to that and make sure they receive their food,” said Tara Klein, a policy analyst at United Neighborhood Houses. Larger-scale meal programs tend to be more of a “one-size-fits-all” operation, she added.

Compounding the problem is a lack of funding for these food delivery programs, which was stagnant even before the pandemic. Now, as demand has increased 30 percent through the pandemic, programs are calling on the Department of Aging to increase its funding.

On May 1st, City Councilmember Margaret Chin, chair of the Council’s Committee on Aging, wrote a letter to the Department of Aging Commissioner, Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez, is requesting $26.2 million in funding from the city, as without it, many of these programs will not be able to continue their operations past June 30.

“We’re basically fronting it and hoping that the city does the right thing and reimburses us,” Scott Short, CEO of RiseBoro Community Partnerships said. “We’re putting our own finances on the line to do what we think is the right thing for these essential workers.”

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Yannise Jean

Yannise Jean is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in publications like Okayplayer and Well + Good. Follow her on Twitter @yjeanwrites.

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