PHOENIX (Sept. 7, 2021) – Valley of the Sun United Way has launched Senior Connect, an innovative new program to provide restaurant-style meals to older adults in need.
United Way has partnered with Ruby’s Diner in Anthem, which prepares and freezes the nutritious, low-sodium meals. The meals are provided weekly to 11 food banks and nonprofit organizations who distribute the food to approximately 1,000 older adults across the north and northwest valley.
In addition to providing a package of six meals to the seniors per week, the five-month program also provides information about other services for which the seniors may be eligible, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps. In Arizona, fewer than half of the seniors eligible for SNAP are enrolled in the program.
Funded by a grant Valley of the Sun United Way received from the MacKenzie Scott Foundation to further its work, Senior Connect is designed as a strategy to address food insecurity, one of the goals of MC2026, the organization’s five-year plan for creating Mighty Change in Maricopa County in the areas of Health, Housing and Homelessness, Education and Workforce Development. Senior Connect began in mid-August will continue through December 2021.
“As a part of MC2026, our goal is to not only work with our partners to provide nutritious food now, but to help connect older adults to resources that will assist them long-term with food insecurity, healthcare access and other pressing needs,” said Rob Podlogar, Chief Community Development and Engagement Officer at Valley of the Sun United Way.
The organizations who are partnering to distribute the Senior Connect frozen meal packages are:
Prior to COVID-19, vulnerable seniors who live alone, do not drive, or have mobility or health challenges were left struggling to access a reliable and consistent source of nutritious food. When the pandemic hit, food banks became overwhelmed with the additional requests for food, which is still a challenge today.