CareWell Services Southwest is working in partnership with USDA Farmers, the Food Bank Council, and food hubs in Barry and Calhoun counties to distribute 600 boxes of fresh food to local seniors experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The boxes will be provided by Van Eerden Foodservice and will be filled with locally-grown products. They will be divided among food distribution partners in Albion, Marshall, Battle Creek, and Hastings for delivery to seniors, who are considered at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. 

“We are pleased to work with several of these groups to ensure that homebound seniors, aged 60 and over, have access to the food they need during this time as they continue to shelter in place and limit their exposure to the virus,” said CareWell Services CEO Karla Fales. 

This effort is the result of a partnership with the state and the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program announced by Governor Whitmer on Monday, May 18. The initiative will join other programs in the area combating food insecurity among seniors and other vulnerable populations. 

Farmers to Families Food Boxes will be distributed to local seniors by the Albion Food Hub, Barry County United Way’s Fresh Food Initiative, Battle Creek’s RISE program, the Calhoun County Faith Based Coalition, and a local collaborative of agencies from Marshall led by the Department of Public Safety.

Many of these organizations have already worked together to distribute over 150 “Quarantine Boxes” to area seniors in need, and an additional 350 boxes will be compiled and delivered in the near future. The first wave of boxes, containing recipes and ingredients for two people to eat for 10 days, was perfectly timed, arriving at a senior living complex in Hastings the evening it was placed under full quarantine.

In addition to food supplies, boxes containing hygiene and personal care items are available to seniors sheltering in place. This effort is being organized by CareWell Services with the help of volunteers from six other organizations, and funded by a grant from the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. 

Food and other supplies are also available through the RISE COVID-19 Project Support, Community Action commodities food program, Battle Creek Tabernacle, Southern Michigan Food Bank on Wayne Road, the Share Center, and the Salvation Army.

“Our community has done amazing work to see that seniors do not need to worry about food,” said Fales. “I’ve been so impressed by the kindness and care shown to our seniors by so many groups in both Calhoun and Barry counties. This is what community means, and it is the true outworking of our vision statement: ‘a community where people are cared for with respect and dignity.’”

For information on food assistance, seniors and adults with disabilities in need of food or for other unmet needs, contact CareWell Services’ Senior Resource Call Center weekdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm by calling (269) 441-0930 or email info@carewellservices.org.

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