AARP Foundation Grant to Support Food Access for Low-Income Senior Residents in Baltimore City


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Funding supports easy food delivery options and cooking classes

BALTIMORE (July 27, 2017) — The Baltimore City Health Department, American Heart Association and No Boundaries Coalition have joined forces to provide healthy food access for low-income Baltimore City seniors thanks to a $750,000 grant from AARP Foundation.

Four program elements — Virtual Supermarket, Simple Cooking with Heart, Healthy Stores and Fresh at the Avenue — support online grocery ordering and delivery as well as cooking classes at Baltimore senior apartment buildings, while also providing and promoting healthier foods at area corner stores.

“Our seniors are the foundation of our community,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “They have sacrificed and deserve access to every support mechanism we can provide to make their golden years comfortable and productive. We are grateful to AARP Foundation for investing in Baltimore’s elder residents.”

At 14 sites, the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with Heart provides hands-on cooking classes where shoppers can build the skills to buy and cook healthier foods. These same sites offer weekly grocery ordering and delivery through the Baltimore City Health Department’s Virtual Supermarket Program. The Health Department’s Healthy Stores program provides signage, technical assistance and incentives for corner store owners to stock and sell healthier foods and drinks to seniors in between grocery trips. No Boundaries Coalition’s Fresh at the Avenue delivers quality, low-cost produce to these corner stores so they can sell more fresh fruits and vegetables to their older customers.

“It is impossible to ask people to keep healthy when they don’t have options to do so,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “With the support of our partners and generous organizations like AARP Foundation, we can invest in solutions to the critical issue of food access and work together to level the playing field so that our older adults can choose healthy options to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.”

One out of every four people in Baltimore lives in a food desert, meaning they have limited access to healthy foods. Many are seniors. Corner stores, while convenient, often do not meet older adults’ dietary needs, particularly if diabetes or heart disease requires them to eat a diet rich in fresh foods.

“Hunger is a health issue for many low-income older adults,” said Emily Allen, senior vice president for AARP Foundation programs. “AARP Foundation is honored to work with these local organizations because they are deeply committed to helping seniors live their best lives, whether by providing them with access to affordable, healthy foods or by connecting them with trustworthy resources in their own communities.”

“Our success in achieving key health outcomes is the highest when we can convene strong partnerships, and we’re grateful and proud to be working with the Baltimore City Health Department’s Virtual Supermarket and No Boundaries Coalition to continue to address food supply issues that affect our Baltimore neighbors,” said Jack Lewin, chairman, Greater Maryland Board of Directors of the American Heart Association. “Together, we can significantly boost our collective ability to make a positive impact in our community – and that is because of AARP Foundation’s generous gift.”

 “The No Boundaries Coalition started our food justice campaign in 2014 when we found that for every place residents could buy fresh produce in the 21217 ZIP code, there were 10 places they could buy hard alcohol,” said Rebecca Nagle, co-director of the No Boundaries Coalition. “This grant will help us reverse that ratio by supporting our corner store delivery program, where we will source 30 local corner stores with fresh and affordable produce over the next three years.” 

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