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Grant will help Council on Aging deliver more meals to homebound seniors

Grant will help Council on Aging deliver more meals to homebound seniors

Senior meals

Currently, 230 homebound seniors are receiving meals each week through the Pima Council on Aging program. That number is expected to rise to around 500 this summer.

UnitedHealthcare awarded a $50,000 grant to the nonprofit Pima Council on Aging to help deliver meals to homebound seniors, officials recently announced.

The Empowering Health grant is to help PCOA assist homebound seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This unprecedented environment has compounded challenges faced by Arizona’s most vulnerable residents and created further barriers to accessing the health care and services they need,” said Heather Kane, chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare of Arizona.

Officials said that the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says that “nearly 80% of what influences a person’s health relates to non-medical issues, such as food, housing, transportation and the financial means to pay for basic daily needs.”

This year PCOA is spending over $4 million to feed about 1,600 older adults each week, said Lana Baldwin, PCOA vice president of philanthropy and communications.

Baldwin said the UnitedHealthcare grant helped start an expanded meals program at 10 affordable housing complexes with high populations of older adults who need meals during the pandemic.

Currently, 230 seniors are receiving meals each week, and up to a total of 500 people are expected to participate in this program this summer, Baldwin said. Several of the apartment complexes are operated by the city and Catholic Community Services.

“This grant funding from UnitedHealthcare, along with other funding, is helping PCOA expand meal services to people who previously might not have qualified for the meals,” said Baldwin. “The reason we reached out to managers at apartment complexes to offer assistance to residents was to “make sure those high-risk, low-income vulnerable older adults have safe, easy and reliable access to nutritious food,” Baldwin said.

The meals for this program are being prepared at Jewish Community Center’s kitchen and Stay Naked Kitchen, which both re-opened and were able to bring back furloughed workers for this project, said Baldwin. The workers also deliver meals to the complexes.

Any person age 60 and older in need of assistance can call PCOA at 790-7262.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@tucson.com or 573-4104. On Twitter: @cduartestar

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