LA Councilman partners to feed needy seniors
City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Courtesy 8th Council District LA 8th Council District senior residents receive free meals uring pandemic from local restaurants LOS ANGELES – Senior residents in the 8th Council District were on the receiving end
City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Courtesy 8th Council District
LA 8th Council District senior residents receive free meals uring pandemic from local restaurants
LOS ANGELES – Senior residents in the 8th Council District were on the receiving end of benevolence, Wednesday, when City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, partnering with Lyft, provided free healthy meals to ease the hardships caused by the coronavirus.
The councilman’s office is engaging the small business community in South Los Angeles to prepare and deliver more than 8,500 total fresh meals to seniors at assisted living facilities and single-family residences. This program helps seniors stay safe at home and allows 23 local restaurants to continue serving their communities.
“Surviving this crisis will require innovation on every level,” said Harris-Dawson. “This emergency senior meals program was an opportunity to quickly respond to the needs of our residents. Our small businesses contribute so much to the financial and cultural vitality of our communities. This work allows them to continue giving back to our neighborhoods while also keeping their staff employed.
Harris-Dawson utilized a community organizer’s approach to quickly respond to the needs of residents. Grassroots support was combined with city funding and private philanthropy, to immediately launch the initiative. During the first week, more than 1,000 meals were served. At full capacity, the program could potentially serve 5,000-7,000 seniors daily.
“During these unprecedented times, it’s important now more than ever that we come together as a community to help those in need,” Lyft Senior Public Policy Manager George Kivork said. “Under [Councilman] Harris-Dawson’s leadership, we’ll be able to not only help feed thousands of Los Angeles seniors during the pandemic, but also support family businesses and our local driver community as well.”
The partnership with Lyft allows the councilmember to expand the emergency senior meals program beyond senior living facilities to serve individual homes, providing free healthy meals to thousands of seniors daily. This partnership also deepens the impact of the program, with Lyft drivers from the 8th council district and the surrounding community delivering meals prepared by local restaurants to seniors across South LA.
COVID-19 presented an immediate crisis for homebound seniors and small businesses in South LA. The emergency senior meals program is a way to immediately serve vulnerable seniors throughout the “stay at home” period ordered by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Existing senior service programs have been stretched thin during this time and many seniors live on fixed incomes. The program ensures that homebound seniors receive meals three times a week and not risk leaving home for food.
Most of the participating businesses are small, family-owned restaurants with fewer than 10 employees. Like many restaurants, these businesses operate on very thin margins, and the sudden drop in customers threatens their survival. The emergency meals program was an immediate way to support seniors and businesses struggling to survive this crisis. Days after these measures were introduced, Councilmeman Harris-Dawson redirected city funds from community events that were canceled due to the pandemic to launch the program.
These businesses are required to follow strict health department codes and regulations, provide meals that accommodate common dietary restrictions amongst seniors, and manage door-to-door delivery while practicing social distancing. For many businesses, this is their first time managing deliveries, and some are even expanding to support online orders..
The partnership is part of Lyft’s broader LyftUp initiative, Lyft’s comprehensive effort to expand transportation access to those who need it most.