Gleaners, Ford pilot program delivers fresh food to senior citizens

Many senior citizens often face transportation issues that hinder them from accessing nutritious food. To provide some relief, Gleaners Community Food Bank and Ford are teaming up on a pilot program. 

"This collaboration will help Gleaners provide a wider variety of fresh foods directly to the doorsteps of enrolled seniors, as part of a collective goal to eliminate the disparity in accessing social and economic opportunities for underserved communities," Gleaners stated in a news release, announcing the program.

The Ford Motor Company Fund is enabling the initiative as part of a $5 million investment plan aimed at tackling transportation insecurity in Southeast Michigan.

"These boxes contain a foundation of 30 pounds of free, nutritious fruit, vegetables, whole grains and protein, delivered by DoorDash," according to the release.

Senior citizens with transportation barriers cannot take themselves to the grocery store or "pick up food at a community mobile distribution," said Kristin Sokul with Gleaners. "We’re really invested in taking care of the people who have taken care of us."

As many seniors live on fixed incomes, the impact of inflation often leaves little money for healthy foods like fruits and vegetables – but the Ford Fund’s investment provides a solution.

"We’re adding fresh food and we think that the fresh food component is going to do a couple of things," said Luisa Schumacher with Ford. "One, it is nourishing for people and their bodies, and food is medicine. But also, it delights people."

The boxes are delivered monthly to 500 qualifying seniors. The 12-month pilot program began in January. 

Once the program is over, "Gleaners will collect insights from participants about their satisfaction with the home delivery program and foods provided, as well as learn more about the barriers they face, which may include lack of transportation, physical mobility challenges, dietary considerations or other factors," according to the release.