San Mateo County steps up to continue nutritional support for seniors

San Mateo County to continue nutritional program for seniors after federal support ends

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The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors at its June 29 meeting approved approximately $4 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds so low-income seniors can continue receiving nutritional support previously administered via the Great Plates Delivered program, according to the County of San Mateo.

Federal support for the program, which is derived from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021—part of the federal COVID-19 stimulus package—is slated to end July 9.

Since the advent of the pandemic, the Great Plates program has provided approximately 2.7 million restaurant-prepared meals to low-income seniors and those most at-risk from the coronavirus in San Mateo County, said County officials, who added that 84 participating restaurants served 4,689 total clients. Through the program, more than $59 million was returned to the local economy.

“Great Plates has been like a rescue plan for older frail adults during the pandemic and we cannot let 5,000 of them go hungry because of COVID,” said Board of Supervisors President David J. Canepa. “As the federal program is set to expire, however, we must transition to providing this service ourselves.”

As part of the board’s decision, $2.55 million will go to Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, one of the largest food banks in the country, so that the organization can provide home-delivered groceries to Great Plates participants who still need food assistance and are able to prepare their own meals.

The board also voted to provide nearly $2 million each year for the next two fiscal years to expand the Older Americans’ Act-funded Home Delivered Meals program, per the County. It will fund existing County-contracted senior nutrition providers to ensure a smooth transition of home delivered meals for Great Plates participants who are homebound and unable to prepare their own meals.

Lisa Mancini, director of County Health’s Aging and Adult Services division, which manages the Great Plates Delivered program, said that “the County is stepping up to fill a real need” and that food insecurity among the older adult community is a critical issue because they have been “hit hard by COVID-19 and [need] help to recover.”

County staff and/or Second Harvest Food Bank will be contacting current Great Plates clients with info about the new options for food support. At-risk older adults who currently are not enrolled in Great Plates should contact the Aging and Adult Services helpline at 1-800-675-8437 for info on other nutritional assistance.

Photo courtesy of San Mateo County