‘It doesn’t have to be that way:’ New food delivery program to feed Madison-area elderly

NewBridge, River Food Pantry unveil Food Bridge

Picture this: Your older parent or grandparent is living at home during their last phase of life, but they wake up every morning worrying about how they’ll get their next meal.

It doesn’t have to be that way, according to the people behind Madison’s new food delivery program.

NewBridge Madison, The River Food Pantry, and RSVP of Dane County announced the launch of Food Bridge: Your Connection to Wholesome Groceries this October.

What it is: Food Bridge, the food delivery pilot program, started Oct. 1, and in the first year, organizers hope to serve as many as 60 older adults.

NewBridge staff members will work with older adults in their homes or at the NewBridge offices to coordinate food delivery once a month. RSVP volunteers will pick up food from the River Food Pantry and deliver to older adults at their mutual convenience.

Why it’s important: According to NewBridge Madison, there are more than 2,500 older adults in Madison and Monona who are at nutritional risk and/or qualify for FoodShare. Many older adults who receive Meals on Wheels or eat at NewBridge meal sites stretch one meal into two or more meals, particularly toward the end of each month when their monthly incomes may be depleted.

‘It doesn’t have to be that way:’ New food delivery program to feed Madison-area elderly

According to Feeding America , older adults who struggle with hunger are

* 78% more likely to experience depression
* 40% more likely to report chest pain
* 55% more likely to develop asthma

Who it helps: Older adults with limited incomes are regularly forced to choose between purchasing food or medicine or paying for housing, utilities, transportation or medical care. Therefore, older adults struggling with finances may rely on eating cheap or unhealthy food (including expired food.) In addition, many older adults with food shortages are often homebound because of physical limitations and lack of transportation and are thus unable to get to a food pantry by themselves.

How it works: Food Bridge will allow older adults to have two or three nutritious meals a day by delivering healthy food from the River Food Pantry to older adults’ homes.

What is costs: The new program is free for the 60 people who qualify during year one. But others can save, too. According to the River Food Pantry, older adults can save an average of $67 per week or $268 per month by shopping at the River.

“Our vision at the River is of a fully nourished community,” said Charles McLimans, president and CEO of the River Food Pantry. “Older adults and children are some of the most vulnerable members of our community affected by food insecurity, and we have strategies to address both ends of the spectrum. Food Bridge is an innovative and collaborative approach to solving hunger in the older adult population and we are excited to engage with our community partners, NewBridge, and RSVP, to launch this initiative.”

Who can qualify: To receive meals through the Food Bridge program, people must meet the following qualifications.
* Age 60+
* Live in Madison or Monona
* Fall below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (an income of $18,000 or less a year)
* Homebound, at nutritional risk, and lack the means (money, physical limitations, transportation) to access food
* Be a NewBridge case management client

How to help: In order to make this new program a success, the nonprofits involved are asking for your help. Click here to volunteer and learn more about Food Bridge. You can also donate; NewBridge is hoping to get at least $50,000 in donations for the program in the first year. Click here to make a donation. RSVP of Madison is also looking for drivers to deliver meals. Drivers are reimbursed 55 cents a mile, and volunteers can cover as little as one shift a month (an hour or less of time.) Click here to volunteer as a driver. And the River Food Pantry is always looking for additional volunteers. Click here to sign up for a shift.

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