Bank of America recently awarded EngAGE a $10,000 grant to help fund the EngAGE in Wellness: Hunger Relief program, which partners with several large Southern California food banks to provide onsite delivery of several tons of free food each month to thousands of low-income residents living in 36 affordable apartment communities in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, and San Bernardino counties.
Two significant problems facing seniors and others in accessing food banks are that the packaging of food is too bulky and the pick-up locations are unreachable for some populations. We staff the Wellness Program to solve these problems. Trucks pick up the food; parcel it into bi-monthly, usable packages; and arrange delivery to our senior and family apartment communities. Then, each month, EngAGE delivers and distributes 26,870 lbs. of free food to our participating residents —that’s 322,440 lbs. of food a year!
Through the years, EngAGE has also created and supervised on-site vegetable gardens in 14 communities we serve. Residents often prepare communal meals using produce from the community garden, and cooking/nutrition classes offered by EngAGE also typically incorporate produce from the community gardens.
In addition to providing access to and assistance growing food, EngAGE provides free onsite wellness classes weekly, teaching low-income residents how to prepare healthy meals, engage in congregate cooking onsite, practice better nutrition behaviors (including financial planning and literacy in relation to grocery shopping), and retain their health and independence. We also offer classes in exercise, strength building, fall prevention, health education, medication management, and others that empower residents to take on healthy behaviors that keep them in independent affordable housing and out of higher levels of care.
The EngAGE in Wellness program also provides needs-based onsite staff services, such as applications for discount utilities and financial assistance programs, health access, transportation, financial literacy education, and computer literacy, creating better financial stability and health for a very underserved population.
It’s estimated that 1 in 6 Americans are at risk of going hungry, and many seniors and working families are struggling to address other basic needs. EngAGE is excited to put this Bank of America grant to work by supporting vital needs in our community.