Pennsylvania partnering with DoorDash to deliver meals to seniors

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volunteers hold boxes of food
Volunteers wait to load Farmers to Families Food Box packages into cars at a mass distribution site in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, on May 26, 2020. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

DELMONT, Pa. — At the Westmoreland Food Bank Sept. 23, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Second Lady Gisele Fetterman joined Pennsylvania’s anti-hunger organizations and food banks to announce a new partnership with DoorDash to have healthy, nutritious meals delivered to homebound seniors in need. 

The initiative, unveiled during Hunger Action Month, is designed to remove barriers and increase enrollment in the Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program, which provides life-sustaining meal deliveries and nutrition services to eligible older Pennsylvanians. 

“It’s high time that Pennsylvania’s food assistance programs offer services tailored to the unique needs of their recipients and actively work to remove barriers to access,” said Redding. 

Barriers

More than 300,000 Pennsylvania seniors are eligible for the Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program, but only about 35,000 are enrolled to receive it this year. Seniors often face barriers to access for food assistance programs because of issues such as transportation, mobility or technology. 

Program

Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, Feeding Pennsylvania and their network of food banks are partnering with DoorDash where its coverage overlaps with agencies administering the food box program. Dashers then will deliver boxes to seniors in need. As with any DoorDash delivery, dashers are compensated. 

In Pennsylvania, eligible participants for the senior food box program include low-income individuals who are at least 60 and whose household income is at or below 130% of the U.S. poverty level. Seniors can fill out the self-certification form at agriculture.pa.gov/seniorfoodbox or call 800-468-2433 to be directed to the regional food bank distributing the senior food box in their county of residence. 

This partnership with DoorDash is part of the company’s work through Project DASH, an initiative that connects food banks and food pantries with clients through last mile delivery. To date, Project DASH has made more than 900,000 deliveries of an estimated more than 15 million meals in more than 900 cities in the U.S. and Canada. 

Counties

The program is already up and running in several communities across the commonwealth. More than 365 meals have been delivered as part of the launch. In southwestern Pennsylvania, Westmoreland Food Bank, Fayette County Community Action Food Bank and Food Helpers are among the first to utilize the service, with deliveries set for seniors who signed up for the service. 

Currently, 10 counties are being served by DoorDash as part of the partnership. They include Bucks, Dauphin, Erie, Fayette, Luzerne, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Washington, Westmoreland and York.

The program remains open to other counties as it continues to grow. Hunger-Free Pennsylvania is the state’s partner in administering the federally-funded Senior Food Box Program, formally known as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which leverages government buying power to provide nutritious food packages to low-income residents. 

Recently, Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and the Department of Agriculture worked together to rebrand the program to the Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program and removed the requirement where seniors had to provide documented proof of income when applying to receive the box. 

Prescriptions

Hunger-Free Pennsylvania also recently launched a pilot with PACE and PACENET, Pennsylvania’s prescription assistance programs for older adults. 

Because eligibility requirements for prescription assistance and the Pennsylvania Senior Food Box Program mirror each other so closely, the organizations are able to capture people seeking low-cost prescription medication and bring them into the charitable food program. 

Since its launch this summer, the effort has already drawn more than 2,800 applications for food boxes provided by nine different regional food banks.

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