Supporting DC Seniors In Partnership With We Are Family
Since 2004, We Are Family has provided free services, advocacy, and companionship to seniors in Washington, DC. Their network of volunteers provides support to nearly 1,000 marginalized seniors and works to build a caring, just, and inclusive community. At the heart of their work is free monthly grocery delivery to DC seniors over 60 who live at or below the poverty line, a group that faces a tremendous amount of food insecurity.
FRESHFARM’s Pop Up Food Hub has proudly partnered with We Are Family since 2015, when we started a small pilot to coordinate weekly produce orders to supplement their usual grocery deliveries. Volunteers would pick up the produce at the Columbia Heights farmers market and deliver to seniors in the neighborhood from June through October. This program has grown from a pilot of 35 seniors per week to over 500 monthly. Over the years, these fresh produce deliveries have been an incredible boon to the recipients, who typically have very limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables due to cost, limited ability to get to grocery stores, and lack of availability in their neighborhoods. This work aligns closely with the DC Food Policy Council’s No Senior Hungry Initiative and 2021 priority to decrease food insecurity and promote health equity among at-risk populations.
The demand for fresh produce exploded during the pandemic, and We Are Family and the Pop Up Food Hub quickly shifted operations to meet the critical need. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, We Are Family sourced local fruits and vegetables from the Pop Up Food Hub primarily for seniors living near the Columbia Heights farmers market who faced mobility and other challenges to accessing enough healthy food. In response to the pandemic, We Are Family scaled up their produce orders from us, jumping from serving 300 seniors in Columbia Heights to 1,000 seniors that We Are Family supports around the city. These produce orders supplement the pantry supplies and shelf-stable products We Are Family procures from local food banks. With food banks running low on food due to increased demand during the pandemic, the fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables from the Pop Up Food Hub became even more critical.
In addition to scaling up our partnership, the Pop Up Food Hub extended the season, sourcing produce from our farmers into the winter of 2020-21. This year, we moved closer to a year-round supply of local produce, so that we could continuously serve our partners like We Are Family. “The fresh produce is such a wonderful addition to our monthly grocery deliveries,” says Tulin Ozdeger, Co-Executive Director of We Are Family. “The people we serve love getting the fresh fruits and vegetables each month and the produce is essential in helping them stay in good health.”
We are so grateful for the role that We Are Family plays in our community to stand with our seniors and make sure they have the resources, companionship, and services they need to age in place. We are proud to play a part in their efforts to make sure vulnerable seniors across DC can enjoy fresh food and stay well-nourished during the pandemic and beyond.