A grant from Legacy Health Foundation will help feed the hundreds of local senior citizens who are struggling to make ends meet.
A recent survey undertaken by Legacy Health Endowment and the EMC Health Foundation found that 56% of senior citizens across Stanislaus and Merced counties said they were living paycheck to paycheck. Moreover, 26% have had to choose between purchasing gasoline and food, gasoline and medicine, or other healthcare services.
To help combat this crisis, Legacy Health Endowment approved a $200,000 grant to the United Samaritans Foundation to provide meals to seniors living in Turlock, Hilmar, Keyes and other local cities.
“Food insecurity is placing the lives of too many retirees in peril,” said Jeffrey Lewis, President of Legacy Health Endowment.
According to Linda Julien, Executive Director of the United Samaritans Foundation, the organization currently provides more than 6,000 meals a month to seniors whose only income is from SSI benefits and/or Social Security.
Julien said that number of senior citizens they serve through their Daily Bread lunch trucks has more than doubled. Today, 40% of the people USF serves are senior citizens, up from 17% just a few years ago.
“Either they lost a spouse or partner and they had two social security checks but now it’s down to one… They have enough money to pay for rent and utilities but there’s nothing left for food,” she said.
USF’s lunch trucks stop at 15 locations in Turlock, 15 locations in Keyes/Ceres, 10 locations around Modesto, 13 stops in the Hughson-Empire-Waterford-Denair area and five stops in the Patterson-Grayson-Newman area every week.
“If only you could see the joy in the faces of those we serve,” Julien said. “This targeted funding is filling a gap that will change the lives of many.”
USF also started a delivery food box program for Turlock seniors, as many seniors cannot make it to the food truck stops due to mobility issues or fear of contracting COVID. USF delivers food boxes to 84 local seniors.
Emanuel Medical Center launched a home-delivered meals program for seniors many years ago. Lewis said the latest grant continues EMC’s work and helps ensure “we take every step possible to keep seniors healthy.”
Lewis described Julien as “a tireless advocate, dedicated to the well-being of our community and an incredible person and professional. Every day it is an honor to collaborate with her.”