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Food + good people: removing barriers to nutrition in southern Lorain County

Posted on: November 28, 2018

Age-related changes, disabilities, and chronic health conditions may make it difficult to go grocery shopping, especially in rural locations and for people with a low income. The Coalition for Quality Aging (CQA), which works to improve the quality of aging for older adults in Lorain County, identified this barrier and worked to find solutions. CQA partners at Oberlin Community Services (OCS) proposed to test out a food delivery service for people in southern Lorain County who can’t get to the store due to disability or age-related challenges.

On the third Friday of each month, participants receive non-perishable foods like shelf-stable milk, canned vegetables and fruit, and pasta, and, when available, perishable foods are included, such as frozen meat, fresh produce, and eggs. Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio (Second Harvest) supplies food for this delivery service. For eligibility and to request this home food delivery, click to call.

OCS Food Programs Coordinator, Hannah Rosenberg, connects existing groups to help deliver food to clients. “It makes sense to mobilize people who want to make a difference for their community and neighbors,” said Rosenberg. The project has grown since its first delivery in September 2018. “We intentionally started small in one community, and now the project has grown from seven to 13 deliveries in Huntington and Wellington areas,” said Rosenberg.

To become a food delivery volunteer, click to call. Volunteers typically spend less than two hours of service per month. Current volunteers are from Wellington Kiwanis and A Gathering Church in Spencer.

For older adults with low incomes, this project may supplement other local food services such as Meals on Wheels, congregate meals, food pantries, and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (often called senior food boxes).

To find local food services for people in need, call 211 or visit the 211 website - powered by United Way of Greater Lorain County.

Thirty-three percent of Lorain County’s total population is projected to be made up of people age 60 and older by 2030, according to Scripps Gerontology Center.

“Factors like disability, age-related changes, and lack of appropriate transportation can contribute to food insecurity,” said Dave Covell, MPH, RS, health commissioner at Lorain County Public Health. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food insecurity means lacking the ability to get enough food for an active, healthy life - which over time may contribute to hunger and poor health.

“The need is great for our older adults and the time is now to figure out how to collectively tackle problems, such as lack of food, falls hazards, door-to-door transportation, and medication management. The list goes on,” said Covell.

Through data collected at Lorain County food pantries, an estimated 50,000 unduplicated people of all ages will be served by a local food pantry in 2018, according to Second Harvest. Second Harvest and their partners distribute nutritious food to a network of 112 hunger-relief programs in Lorain, Crawford, Erie, and Huron counties.