In recent weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live. For many, this has led to stress and uncertainty with regard to food security.
In particular, vulnerable older adults are finding themselves unable to access food due to self-isolation or other factors. While there are online options for grocery or restaurant delivery, many seniors do not have access to technology or the capability to navigate these systems.
And while many older adults already have a relationship with a number of community-based organizations, there are still many more people with no support.
The Government of Canada recently announced a fund of $9 million to be distributed across Canada to support vulnerable older adults. Thanks to this funding, United Way Winnipeg is partnering with the City of Winnipeg 311 Call Centre, A&O Support Services for Older Adults, CAA, The Winnipeg Foundation and community organizations serving older adults to utilize 311 as a simple point of contact for vulnerable seniors (55+) needing access to healthy food and a daily wellness check.
Phone operators at 311 will register a caller’s contact information and directly transfer the caller to A&O Support Services for Older Adults. The Centre will follow up with the senior and connect with the appropriate community resources on behalf of the senior to provide for food, hot meals, personal care items or social support.
Concerned family members may also call on a vulnerable senior’s behalf.
“I am proud to see our City and community come together to help one-another during this difficult time,” said Hon. Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs and Member of Parliament for St. Boniface – St. Vital. “This support for seniors, through the New Horizons for Seniors Program, is critical in keeping them connected to their community and ensure they receive hot meals, social supports, personal care products and other needs. I want to thank all the organizations and volunteers involved in making this happen.”
“We know that during this difficult time of social distancing, many older adults in our community may also be feeling isolated and cut off from community supports, and unsure of where to reach out for assistance,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “311 is a well-known and trusted number for our residents, and we are happy to help facilitate this connection.”
“We are so pleased the Federal Government is investing to support isolated seniors during this very difficult time,” said Connie Walker, President & Chief Executive Officer, United Way Winnipeg. ”We are grateful to our many partners on this including, the City of Winnipeg’s 311 team and members of CUPE Local 500, A&O Support Services for Older Adults, Winnipeg Harvest, The Winnipeg Foundation and a range of community organizations. CAA has volunteered to provide pick-up and delivery supports with Skip the Dishes also volunteering to stand by to help with delivery. We appreciate their efforts to go above and beyond, so no one in our city is left behind.”
“Many older adults in our community may be isolated and in need of supports, having 311 as a way for older adults and those that care about them to find the support they need is going make a difference in the lives of older Winnipeggers,” said Amanda Macrae, Chief Executive Officer, A & O Support Services for Older Adults. “A & O: Support Services for Older Adults is pleased to be part of this innovative solution. We are excited to work together with United Way Winnipeg and the City of Winnipeg.”