“When people think of seniors, they often envision grandparents with lots of family around them — but for many, that’s not the case,” says Kevin McAllister, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels (MoW) Sacramento. “A lot of people don’t have families.” And since the pandemic started, as McAllister points out, seniors who were already isolated have been even more cut off from any friends and family they do have.
MoW Sacramento is a nonprofit that provides nutritious meals to seniors in Sacramento County, California, but just as crucially, it also provides a sense of community for isolated seniors.
On Thanksgiving — a day associated with togetherness — it’s easy to reflect on why community is often as important as food. We may need food to stay alive, but what’s a turkey without loved ones to argue with about how to cook it? Plus, community is a matter of health and safety. “For home-bound and bed-bound seniors, we need eyes and ears on them—especially during the pandemic,” McAllister says. “Since we were already delivering meals daily, we started doing wellness check-ins, too. Some of our participants have been in the program for 10 years and have become like family to our staff.”
MoW’s participants more than doubled with the pandemic. “In the early months, we were all working 15- to 20-hour days trying to make sure that our community was supported,” McAllister recalls. “Now it’s just the typical 13-hour days. We really care about our participants and they show us a lot of appreciation with notes and cards. That keeps us going. Plus, seniors are just so much fun. They say what they mean and mean what they say!”
This year, Project DASH — our initiative to help social impact organizations leverage DoorDash logistics to increase access in their communities — is partnering with MoW Sacramento, The Making A Difference Foundation (MADF)’s Eloise’s Cooking Pot Food Bank in Tacoma/Seattle, and various United Way chapters around the country to deliver Thanksgiving meals and ingredients.
In Pierce County, Washington, MADF and Eloise’s Cooking Pot Food Bank will give away over 2000 turkeys and Thanksgiving food boxes to families in need and to veteran and military families. DoorDash will provide deliveries alongside Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland and many other community volunteers.
“I applaud the inspiring and tireless work of Eloise’s Cooking Pot Food Bank and DoorDash’s Project DASH to deliver meals to veterans and families in our community during Thanksgiving and throughout the year. From introducing the Military Hunger Prevention Act to lending a hand with meal deliveries this week, I’ll always be your partner in the mission to end hunger,” said Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland.
DoorDash works with United Way Worldwide throughout the year to provide seniors, youth, communities of color, people experiencing homelessness, refugees, people with chronic health issues, and others not only with Thanksgiving prepared meals and ingredients, but reliable delivery of food and essentials like mental health kits, warm blankets and clothing, toys and gifts, and hygiene supplies.
As President and Founder of MADF, Ahndrea Blue, says, “We understand even in normal times how challenging it can be to meet the basic needs of ourselves and our families … we want to help people who are struggling to put food on the table at this time of the year — and everyday — have what they need to make this Thanksgiving a joyous one.”
This Thanksgiving, we are grateful for all of the hardworking team members at our Project DASH partner organizations and to the Dashers who deliver the food their communities depend on. Thank you for the work you do to bring Thanksgiving to as many people as possible — for nourishing your communities in more ways than one.