The Florida Department of Elder Affairs (DOEA) announced a partnership with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) that allows the needs of the business community and workers in the restaurant business to be matched with the needs of the elderly and meal delivery services.
“By working together, our agencies will be able to ensure all of our 5.5 million seniors have safe access to food,” said Richard Prudom, Secretary for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. “Governor DeSantis has helped to facilitate this process and allowed restaurants and food establishments to become emergency meal vendors for Florida’s seniors who are homebound or self-isolating for protection. We are in constant communication with seniors and our senior-care providers around the state and we know this action will greatly increase the flexibility of our communities to access meal delivery.”
As meal sites for seniors close around the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the collaboration between state agencies and the restaurant association will provide one more layer of food reassurance to our seniors.
Locally, the Council on Aging’s dining site at Holley Navarre Senior Center has closed over concerns of the spread of COVID-19. But Josh Newby, Council on Aging of West Florida’s director, says seniors can still pick up meals to-go at the site if they were already part of the program.
If there are seniors aged 60 or over who need to register for the program, they can call 850-432-1475. Meals can be picked up at the site Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. Newby also said the Meals on Wheels program is still operational.
“Restaurants are the very fabric of communities across Florida,” said Carol Dover, President & CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. “Providing jobs, serving customers, and creating memorable experiences for guests are key in our hospitality industry, but our restaurants contribute so much more than that. Ensuring that older Floridians have access to food during this unprecedented time is important to our restaurant owners and employees, and we commend Governor DeSantis, Secretary Prudom, and Secretary Beshears for working with our to industry to help serve those in need.”
DOEA’s eleven Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state will work with local volunteers and other local service providers to ensure meal delivery to Florida’s most vulnerable population. Meal delivery by volunteers and other organizations will also combat social isolation of seniors by providing the simple interaction of food delivery to the doorstep of an elder.