Helping Seniors with Basic Needs During the Pandemic


As the County grapples with the rapid spread of COVID-19, thousands of residents have looked for ways to care for themselves and others during difficult times.

On March 19th, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a “Safer at Home” order directing the public to stay home or remain at their place of residence, with the exception of travel to and from essential businesses (grocery stores or carry-out restaurants) and services.

Before the pandemic hit, many older adults (60-65+) would visit one of the County’s Senior Centers for daily congregate meals. Unfortunately, on March 16th, in order to enforce social distancing, the County closed all buildings to the public, including its 23 Community and Senior Centers.

With all congregate meal sites remaining closed, Workforce Development Aging & Community Services (WDACS), with federal funding and support from the Board of Supervisors, has increased its assistance to the County’s most vulnerable population by expanding existing programs, undertaking new delivery services, and broadening its partnerships.

Elderly Nutrition Program

Los Angeles County is expanding free meal services for older adults during the COVID-19 crisis. The Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP), which provided daily congregate meals prior to the pandemic, has shifted to a home-delivered program to keep older adults safe at home. They are providing drive-through meal service at a limited number of locations.

Seniors 65 and older must send a relative, friend, or caregiver who is under the age of 65 to pick up meals on their behalf. To ensure older adults continue to receive critically needed meals, frozen meals are delivered to older adults’ homes who do not have a family member or friend who can pick up meals. Seniors may request meal delivery by calling 800-510-2020. By increasing capacity through short-term contracts to bring additional partners on board, WDACS will be able to serve approximately 2,700 new clients in the next 12 months.

Food Pantry Groceries (no cost)

For the last 30 years, WDACS has partnered with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank to provide free emergency groceries to seniors. This partnership has increased capacity from providing 10,000 pounds of food a week to more than 50,000 pounds a week.

WDACS is providing emergency food distribution services at three locations within the Second District. In order to comply with social distancing requirements, all pick-ups are drive-through and by appointment only.

Asian Community Service Center: For an appointment call: 310-217-7300
Florence Firestone Service Center: For an appointment call 323-586-6502
Willowbrook Senior Center: For an appointment call: 310-217-5650

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has a listing of additional providers on its website at lafoodbank.org.

Critical Delivery Service

WDACS has launched the Critical Delivery Service (CDS), a temporary Countywide program, to transport groceries, household items, and other vital necessities to individuals who are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. Items may be delivered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no delivery fee. However, items must be pre-paid for pickup. Residents may utilize this service up to four times or 40 miles per month, whichever comes first.

Deliveries may be scheduled by calling 1-888-863-7411 between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

“In these difficult times, we must do all we can to help those who need the most,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “In the weeks and months to come, the Critical Delivery Service Program will become a vital service that will provide much-needed relief to our loved ones who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, so that they can remain safe at home but at the same time continue to receive the nutritious meals they need for their sustenance during this crisis.”

“Thousands of older and dependent adults are now responsibly practicing Safer at Home principles, but in order to protect themselves and their loved ones, they need help bringing groceries and other essentials home,” said Otto Solórzano, Acting Director of WDACS. “LA County’s new Critical Delivery Service program will enable these residents to stay at home and still have food on their table.”

Other Food Services

Beginning April 28th, CalFresh participants can purchase groceries online using their EBT cards at Amazon and Walmart. When you buy $35 or more in groceries online, home delivery is free. When you buy your groceries online using your EBT card from either Amazon or Walmart you cannot select pick-up at the store. The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) website has additional information consumers may find useful.

WDACS receives approximately 250 daily requests for meals, so it is exploring multiple avenues to meet the growing need. Most recently, WDACS has launched a new partnership with Helping Hands and Wider Circle to assist with emergency food deliveries to seniors who are home-bound.

WDACS also participates in the County Food Task Force, which launched last week, to disseminate information and maps on food availability throughout the County.

Finally, the Los Angeles County 211 Food Inventory website allows users to enter their zip codes to search for a variety of food resources across the County, including locations of free groceries, food pantries, hot meals, senior meals, and Meals on Wheels.

Other Services

WDACS staff is also calling hundreds of residents each day to check on their well-being and provide them with referrals for additional resources.
Golden Talk is a new community resource that will call an elderly loved one to ensure their safety and deliver a message from family or friends. Services are available in English and Spanish and can be accessed at 888-60-GOLDEN (604-6533).