LOS ANGELES – City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson’s Office is partnering with Lyft to expand an emergency program providing free healthy meals to thousands of local seniors during this COVID-19 pandemic. The councilmember’s office is engaging the small business community in South Los Angeles to prepare and deliver more than 8,500 fresh meals to seniors at assisted living facilities and single-family residences. This program helps seniors stay safe at home and allows 23 (and counting) local restaurants to continue serving their communities.
“Surviving this crisis will require innovation on every level,” said Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson. “This emergency senior meals program was an opportunity to quickly respond to the needs of our residents. Our small businesses contribute so much to the financial and cultural vitality of our communities. This work allows them to continue giving back to our neighborhoods while also keeping their staff employed.”
Councilmember Harris-Dawson utilized a community organizer’s approach to quickly respond to the needs of residents. Grassroots support was combined with City funding and private philanthropy, to immediately launch this initiative. During the first week, over 1,000 meals were served and that number has risen. At full capacity, the program could potentially serve 5,000-7,000 seniors daily.
“During these unprecedented times, it’s important now more than ever that we come together as a community to help those in need,” Lyft Senior Public Policy Manager George Kivork said. “Under Councilmember Harris-Dawson’s leadership, we’ll be able to not only help feed thousands of Los Angeles seniors during the pandemic, but also support family businesses and our local driver community as well.”
This partnership with Lyft allows Councilmember Harris-Dawson to expand the emergency senior meals program beyond senior living facilities to serve individual homes, providing free healthy meals to thousands of seniors a day. This partnership also deepens the impact of the program, with Lyft drivers from the 8th council district and the surrounding community delivering meals prepared by local restaurants to seniors across South Los Angeles. The program intends to build relationships that will outlast this pandemic.
“This pandemic has shown just how much good is out there in this city. Even as every aspect of daily life continues to be turned upside down, it’s programs like these that show we can still both support our families and give back to our communities at the same time. I know when we get through the other side of this tough time, we will be a stronger LA together,” said Lyft driver and CD8 resident Denice Jones.
COVID-19 presented an immediate crisis for homebound seniors and small businesses in South Los Angeles. The emergency senior meals program is a way to immediately serve vulnerable seniors throughout the “stay at home” period ordered by Governor Newsom. Existing senior service programs have been stretched thin during this time and many seniors live on fixed incomes. This program ensures that homebound seniors receive meals three times a week and do not risk leaving their homes for food.
Most of the participating businesses are small, family-owned restaurants with fewer than 10 employees. Like many restaurants, these businesses operate on very thin margins, and the sudden drop in customers threatens their survival. The emergency meals program was an immediate way to support seniors and businesses that are struggling to survive this crisis. Days after these measures were introduced, Councilmember Harris-Dawson redirected City funds from community events that were canceled due to the pandemic to launch the program.
These businesses are required to follow strict health department codes and regulations, provide meals that accommodate common dietary restrictions amongst seniors, and manage door-to-door delivery while practicing social distancing. For many businesses, this is their first time managing deliveries, and some are even expanding to support online orders. Now they all have a fighting chance to survive.
The partnership is part of Lyft’s broader LyftUp initiative, Lyft’s comprehensive effort to expand transportation access to those who need it most. In addition to Councilmember Harris-Dawson’s partnership, Lyft has expanded its LyftUp efforts across the country in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
For more information call 213.462.7150.