All of Us Taking Care of All of Us: Food Rescue for Senior Women in the United States
White Pony Express in collaboration with Stanford University’s Community Health and Prevention Research
Social isolation and mental health are big issues in our senior communities. Every month, Medicare spends approximately $134 more for each socially isolated older adult than it would if the person were connected. The COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated these issues in ways that have not yet been fully understood. The first main goal of this research is to study the impact of COVID-19 on isolation, mental health, physical health and wellbeing in the low-income senior population.
Furthermore, food insecurity among low-income seniors is a rampant problem with 2.9 million households of people aged 65 and over with food insecurity. White Pony Express (WPE) is a novel food rescue program, with the goal of “helping to eliminate hunger and poverty by delivering the abundance all around us to those in need – with love.” In just 7 years, its “circle of giving” model has delivered over 15 million pounds of nutritious, fresh food that would otherwise have gone to waste. While the numbers are impressive, few studies have characterized the impacts of food rescue programs such as WPE upon beneficiaries. Thus, the second main aim of this research is to assess the impact of WPE’s food deliveries on low-income seniors, and the potential role that food rescue organizations in general can play in lowering the burden of food insecurity.
Deliverables & Impact
COVID-19 has presented challenges for all age groups, with older adults being disproportionately affected as some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Low-income seniors experience further challenges of their own surrounding food insecurity and mental health, as shown in previous research. This study aims to explore the impact of COVID-19 on low-income seniors in a variety of contexts, namely mental health, isolation, food insecurity, physical health and wellbeing, taking special note of its impact on senior women.
One of WPE’s main goals is to develop more elaborate quantitative and qualitative metrics to assess their impact on various populations. This study helps evaluate the impact of WPE’s food rescue program that has been implemented in the senior community that we are studying to see how the program can possibly further improve wellbeing and health, especially during COVID-19. The results of this study can greatly help guide food delivery services to low-income seniors, provide food rescue solutions unique to senior women, and reduce food insecurity burdens in the long-term. An aim is to understand if the WPE model is working, and if it can be translated as a sustainable service for even more senior communities around the world.