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Great Plates Delivered delivers to seniors in need

This article is another great addition to my portfolio because it showcases some news about the community, which is especially important during the pandemic times that this article was written in.

Great Plates Delivered, a state-funded nutrition program for seniors helps keep those most at risk healthy and fed during these troubling times. Render by Oliver Fichte

For those at risk for COVID-19, going outside is more dangerous now than it ever has been, limiting the ability for some to get the food they need to survive. Thankfully, due to the state program, Great Plates Delivered, this is no longer too large of an issue. The program, which was initially released last year at the beginning of May, was temporarily extended for another few weeks on Jan. 5, currently up until Feb. 6.

Cristina Ugaitafa, a community program analyst for aging and adult services at San Mateo County Health, further explained this program.

“The way that the program has affected [seniors], would be to help to provide a nutritious meal for them,” Ugaitafa said. “That way, they don’t have to go out to get the meals themselves, which would maybe put them at risk because of their age.”

The program gives food to adults 65 and older without a community support system or family and tries to match their food to make it culturally comfortable. The program attempts to use local restaurants, choosing those close to the patrons they have to serve. Those who receive food from the program get three meals per day, six days per week (Monday-Saturday). However, the seniors aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program; so do local restaurants in the affected areas.

“The benefit of the program is not only that the older adults are getting the meals, but that it’s helping the restaurants as well,” Ugaitafa said.

People and restaurants have been struggling with the pandemic since it began, but this program can help around 3000 Californian seniors get through it a bit more easily. The program has given a lot back to the communities who supported it, giving restaurants some customers to buy their food and giving it to those who need it.

“The dollar amount that’s been put out back into the community from the restaurants that are in this program [is] $30,069,006,” Ugaitafa said.

However, there are some restrictions and eligibility concerns regarding Great Plates Delivered; not everyone can receive these free meals. As stated earlier, Adults 65 and older are eligible, but so are adults 60-64 with high COVID-19 risk. These people would usually have to be people who live alone or with another qualified person, as those with families or community support would be able to get food from those people. Those who receive other government nutrition plans are also not eligible; this includes SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)/food stamps and other programs such as Meals on Wheels/home-delivered meals. There is also an income barrier.

“Their income cannot exceed $74,940 for a household of one. And if they have a household of two, their income cannot exceed $101,460,” Ugaitafa said.

Carlmont’s students also agree with the services the program delivers. Ethan Mak, a Junior at Carlmont, was glad that there was help for those who couldn’t help themselves.

“I think it’s great that they’re doing this program to help, especially the elderly because they’re unable to. A lot of them are having trouble accessing restaurants and stuff, especially during these times,” Mak said.

He also thought that it was good that the restaurants were getting support through the pandemic, given the fact that they lost many customers due to restaurants not being fully open.

“It’s helpful to the restaurants too because it allows them to have customers,” Mak said.

Sam Ahn, a sophomore at Carlmont, thought it was good to have a plan to help those in need, especially during these trying times.

“I think that it’s really important during this COVID-19 season, especially because it’s been like nine months without, people [having] a stable income source,” Ahn said.

Ahn thought that the program was very helpful, even for the restaurants providing the food.

“It’ll help our community because the businesses that aren’t able to get their full income from regular customers can still get income from the people who need the food,” Ahn said.

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