Putting food on the table: addressing food security among isolated older adults during COVID-19

Mowat, Vicki | $50,000

Ontario Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning 2020 NSERC College COVID-19 Grant

Seniors (65+) in the Halton Region (a region in Southern Ontario with an estimated 90,000 adults 65 and

older), like in other districts across Canada, have been told to self-isolate due to COVID-19. Seniors are at high

risk of sickness and death if exposed to the virus. Estimates of the death rate for adults 65-84 who acquire this

viral infection range from 3% to 11% and this rises to 10% to 37% among those over 85. A large proportion of

community dwelling seniors are not leaving their homes and therefore require community supports to survive.

This has put increased demand on community food programs like Food for Life, a regional non-profit that

redistributes over 4 million pounds of fresh healthy food every year to those in need. In response to the

increased demand for food for seniors (an estimated 50% increase), they have developed a specialized “Seniors’

healthy food package” program, where they deliver healthy fresh food to over 1000 seniors once a week, using

a safe contactless delivery program. However, they know this program does not provide enough food for the

week, given that most of their clients are not leaving their homes. In addition, they also know that these clients

are at high risk of social isolation, which can lead to physical, emotional, and cognitive decline. This project

will identify their additional nutritional, social, and emotional health needs, to develop an enhanced package

for seniors. The package will support them nutritionally and connect them with local services and programs

that virtually support older adults, combating social isolation and emotional distress. This proposal is a joint

partnership between Sheridan College’s Centre for Elder Research (an applied research centre focusing on the

needs of our aging population), Food for Life (a regional food redistribution centre that combats food

insecurity), and Community Development Halton (a regional organization that organizes and supports

community efforts – especially those focusing on older adults).

With funding from the Government of Canada

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