More than 58 restaurants in San Francisco are making meals for emergency food deliveries to the elderly and those who cannot leave the house due to illness. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

City extends emergency food delivery program for seniors

Great Plates Delivered SF program serves more than 6,000 older adults a day

As the pandemic has forced older adults at risk of COVID-19 to shelter in place, The City’s emergency food delivery program has been a crucial resource for many who are unable to prepare their meals. Now, The City has extended the Great Plates Delivered SF program until September, officials announced Tuesday.

“Ensuring people have access to nutritious food during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is one of our top priorities,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “The City has really stepped up to the challenge with our meal and grocery delivery programs, and the Great Plates program is an important piece of that response. The program’s extension is critical for so many of our older residents, while also supporting local businesses at the same time.”

Great Plates Delivered SF serves eligible older adults over the age of 65 as well as people between ages of 60 to 64 with underlying health conditions that prevent them from preparing or getting a meal during the shelter in place order, providing three free meals daily to participants.

“Seniors tend to struggle with technology,” said Lenore Estrada, executive director of SF New Deal, a nonprofit administering the program. “It’s not easy for them to order takeout. One woman I spoke to said she’s been eating microwavable food for 60 days before she started with Great Plates. For a lot of seniors, it’s been a relief to have food delivered to them.”

San Francisco-based New Harmony Cafe, one of the food providers of the program in The City, provides meals including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Diana Brooks, the general manager of the cafe, has a different menu everyday, with food delivered on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“We’re all in this together,” Brooks said. “It’s times like these when people who don’t have the resources are the ones who have the most challenges. So we just try to give back as much as we can.”

More than 58 providers deliver about 6,250 meals a day for eligible older adults, according to city officials. And since The City launched the program in May, officials say the program has delivered more than 350,000 meals to more than 2,500 older adults in need.

“It was very gratifying because they were all people who really needed food and on top of that, it provided paychecks for my employees who really needed the paychecks,” said Trish Tracey, chef and the owner of Myriad Gastropub, a San Francisco-based food provider in the program.

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