Bay Aging’s Helping Neighbors initiative is now in its third week and enrollment in the free hot-meal delivery service continues to increase. Volunteers across the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck are delivering over 14,000 hot meals a week prepared by seventeen local restaurants to area seniors and individuals with underlying health conditions who want to stay in their homes during the COVID-19 crisis. “We are absolutely thrilled by the community support that ‘Helping Neighbors’ has generated,” said Kathy Vesley, President and CEO of Bay Aging.  “We are also happy that so many of the region’s hard-hit local restaurants have been able to take part in ‘Helping Neighbors’ as it provides much needed revenue for them.”

To provide additional services with both public health and economic stimulus benefits, Bay Aging has launched a new “Mobile Food Pantry” program delivering shelf-stable groceries, sourced from local grocery stores and the Healthy Harvest Food Bank to area seniors who are sheltering at home. In the Mobile Food Pantry’s first week of operation, 250 bags of groceries were delivered to the residents of Bay Aging’s senior apartments across the region.

In Urbanna, thirty-seven bags of groceries were purchased from the Urbanna IGA Market and delivered to the residents of Bay Aging’s Port Town Village senior apartments. Harry and Becky Bullock, owners of the Urbanna IGA, were happy to take part in the initiative. “The stay at home order as well as the delayed opening of the Bethpage Camp-Resort has definitely impacted our business,” Mr. Bullock said. “We appreciate the order from Bay Aging and love the fact that these groceries were given to some of the town’s neediest residents.” 

In Warsaw, Bay Aging staff sorted, bagged and delivered 213 bags of groceries purchased from Healthy Harvest Food Bank. Healthy Harvest has also donated 250 loaves of bread in support of the initiative. “We really appreciate the support we received from Craig Hazzard and the rest of the team at Healthy Harvest Food Bank,” said Jennifer Beck, Bay Aging’s Director of Community Living Programs, who is spearheading the Mobile Food Pantry initiative. “Obviously, their new building is designed for marshalling and distributing food, which made it a lot easier for us to bag up and load the groceries into Bay Transit buses.”  

Increased food insecurity is an unfortunate biproduct of the COVID-19 crisis and the Mobile Food Pantry and Helping Neighbors programs are just two of the initiatives Bay Aging has launched in response to the COVID-19 crisis. “We plan to expand Mobile Food Pantry deliveries over the next several weeks by enrolling additional seniors and local grocery stores into the program,” said Bay Aging’s Kathy Vesley. “We still have a lot of work to do to ensure area residents are safe and well fed while contending with these challenging times. Fortunately, we already have the transportation infrastructure in place through Bay Transit to efficiently manage grocery distribution over such a large, ten county area.” 

For more information about Bay Aging’s Mobile Food Pantry program, or to volunteer or donate, please visit Bay Aging’s website at www.bayaging.org. For those without access to the internet, please call Bay Aging at 1-800-493-0238.