The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a physical and emotional toll on Americans over the last year, and these lasting impacts have been felt most acutely by older adults. Higher mortality rates, disruptions to daily routines, prolonged isolation from friends and family, as well as technology barriers have intensified feelings of loneliness and mental health concerns among this age group.
Nationwide, rates of food insecurity – meaning inconsistent access to nutritious food – have increased significantly. In Oregon, this social determinant of health has nearly doubled since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic, today affecting nearly 1 in 5 Oregonians.
Understanding these growing concerns, Portland-based nonprofit Meals on Wheels People quickly expanded its extensive meal distribution program to serve 8,000 people daily in Multnomah and Washington counties in Oregon and Clark County, Wash., and launched a ‘Friendly Chats’ program to give older adults a way to safely socialize with volunteers each week.
Regence Blue Cross BlueShield of Oregon is proud to support Meals on Wheels People’s efforts to help older adults maintain their independence by providing nutritious food, human connection and social support.
“Safe and consistent access to nutritious food more than just a basic human right,” says Andrew Over, Regence’s regional vice president of Business and Community Relations. “Food security can have far-reaching impacts on the overall health and wellbeing of our communities.”
Watch this video to learn about the important role community partners like Regence play in helping Meals on Wheels People support thousands of older adults in our communities: