Senior Resource Alliance and partner agencies provide holistic support to seniors and adults with disabilities

From Senior Resource Alliance

At the beginning of April, Meals of Love launched with the goal of safely delivering up to 1,000 fresh, restaurant-prepared meals daily to the homes of seniors and adults with disabilities. After operating for just 18 days – and an outpouring of interest and support from the community – Meals of Love is now delivering 1,800 meals a day, with demand growing daily. Meals of Love is serving meals seven days a week in Orange, Seminole, Brevard and Osceola counties. This is just one of the ways that Senior Resource Alliance (SRA) is supporting its most vulnerable population during this unprecedented time.

“Without our network of nine provider organizations and restaurant partners, none of this would be possible,” said Karla Radka, President and CEO of Senior Resource Alliance. “We recognize the incredible work and impact of our providers who work on the frontline year-round – and are called to serve at an even higher level during this pandemic.”

Meals of Love

Funded by the CARES Act to support older adults and people with disabilities, Meals of Love was created in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By feeding seniors and disabled adults, the program also keeps partner restaurants operating and creates employment for delivery drivers. Among the participating restaurants: The Soup Shop (Brevard), Grills Riverside (Brevard, Orange), Melao Bakery (Osceola), 4 Rivers Smokehouse (Seminole, Orange), and others slated to begin in first weeks of May.

“If it weren’t for Meals of Love, our restaurant wouldn’t be operating right now,” said Eduardo Colón, owner of Melao Bakery in Kissimmee. “It means the world to us to not only be able to support our community during this trying time, but also to put our employees to work.”

In its first three weeks of full operation, Meals of Love has delivered nearly 14,000 meals to homebound seniors and adults with disabilities.

In a letter to the organization, one senior shared, in part: “What an amazing service! … Nice variety, great portions and the food is not only delicious, it lifted my spirits … Your service has done so much for me.”

Meals of Love scaled quickly to surpass initial meal delivery goals and now has a wait list for both recipients and restaurants. The program is working vigorously to build an infrastructure of delivery drivers and volunteers to meet the need.

“Our team is working around the clock to meet the demand as best as we can within the confines of the program funding and a 22-person, bilingual call center, all of whom are working remotely from home,” added Radka. “We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made so far, and we’re working as fast as we can. But we know food is just one component of senior wellbeing, which is why Senior Resource Alliance offers additional services as part of a holistic approach to wellness.”

 Additional senior resources

SRA leads a network of nine partner organizations serving the elderly and disabled adults, including:

  • Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center
  • Aging Matters in Brevard
  • Brevard Alzheimer’s Foundation, Inc. (BAFI)
  • Informed Families
  • Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc.
  • Meals on Wheels, Etc.
  • Seniors First
  • Share the Care
  • Osceola Council on Aging

Together, with the Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA), these organizations are providing critical services, such as:

  • Year-round food assistance – Provider agencies have seen an 85% increase in need since January. Meals on Wheels, Etc. and other agencies continue to deliver meals and groceries to homebound seniors. With the addition of Meals of Love, SRA partner organizations are now delivering an average of 22,400 meals each week.
  • Music and robotic pet companion therapy – Working with Central Florida’s area agencies on aging, the DOEA mailed 239 pre-loaded MP3 players and will be providing therapeutic robotic pets to socially isolated seniors and adults living with Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias (ADRD). The interactive robotic pets help combat social isolation and depression among older individuals and people living with ADRD by improving overall mood and quality of life.
  • Virtual workshops for wellbeing – Recent topics include exercise at home, preventing chronic disease and falls, among others. SRA will also soon offer a depression management program to combat feelings of isolation.
  • Telephone reassurance and Information and Referral Helpline – Additional resources can be located by calling 1-800-96-ELDER. Across the four-county area, the hotlines received more than 2,600 calls in March and April combined – an average of approximately 43 calls a day.

 

  • Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program for the elderly (EHEAP) – Assists eligible seniors with their home energy bill when an energy crisis exists. To qualify for assistance, applicants must be age 60 or older, meet income requirements and actively experiencing a home energy crisis, such as delinquent or past due payments. For more information, contact the Elder Helpline at 1-800-96-ELDER.

For more information about Senior Resource Alliance and its Central Florida partner agencies, visit seniorresourcealliance.org. For more information about Meals of Love, visit mealsoflove.org.

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About Senior Resource Alliance
Serving the community since 1995, The Senior Resource Alliance (SRA) is the Area Agency on Aging of Central Florida, which covers Brevard, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole  Counties. The agency is the local resource for accessing the many services and programs of the state and federal government available to senior citizens, their caregivers and family members. SRA is also an objective clearinghouse for information and services offered by local, state and national organizations. In April 2020, it launched the Florida pilot of Meals of Love in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit
SeniorResourceAlliance.org.

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