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Central Coast organizations step up to bring food, medications to seniors and immunocompromised in the community

Posted at 12:02 AM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 03:02:47-04

Some of our community's most vulnerable people are being forced to self isolate in order to protect themselves from contracting the coronavirus.

Several agencies across the Central Coast are now stepping up to ensure those who are 65 and older, and those who are immunocompromised, have supplies and the medications they need without having to leave the house.

Both the Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County Foodbanks have created programs with the counties health departments where food and medications can be delivered.

As the number of home-bound people increase, several organizations say they could use help keeping up with the demand.

For the team at Meals That Connect, a local non-profit that feeds seniors daily, they say the number of seniors they're feeding is growing following the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have been inundated with phone calls," explained Executive Director of Meals That Connect, Elias Nimeh. "Today I just sent 15 recommendations for seniors to be delivered meals tomorrow and the day after. Every day for two weeks now we've been adding more and more requests for seniors requesting meals mostly because they're afraid to leave their homes,"

To help keep up with the need, both the San Luis Obispo County Foodbank and Santa Barbara County Foodbank are setting up programs alongside the public health departments to deliver food and even medications to those who are 65 and older and the immunocompromised.

"If a senior needs prescriptions, what they need to do is: call their pharmacy, pay for those prescriptions over the phone and then we will send someone to pick up the drugs from the pharmacy and deliver to the door of the individual of the person making the request," explained San Luis Obispo County Adminstrative Officer, Wade Horton.

"We typically serve 20,000 seniors per year through our food distribution and brown bag programs," said Laurel Alcantar, Development Manager of the Santa Barbara County Foodbank. "Right now, we anticipate that we're not only going to have to transition those to delivery but we're also just anticipating a big need where people are going to have a big change in their household income."

Several organizations who are offering a helping hand say this level of need is expensive to maintain, however, and it may come to the point where the community needs to open their hearts and their wallets.

"We are trying our best, and I think the need is going to continue and will continue to a point where we are saturated and can't do anymore," Nimeh said.

While both counties are doing their parts to help, cities like Morro Bay are making their own programs for those in need during this pandemic.

Their RUOK (Are You Okay?) hotline allows community members to sign up for daily wellness calls to help ensure those in self-isolation don't feel alone.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department says their first deliveries to seniors are expected to begin Tuesday.

For information on how to sign up for San Luis Obispo County's programs in place, click here.

For those in Santa Barbara County, you can visit the health department's website and the foodbank's website.