- Year of publication
- Carruthers, Michelle; Cairns, Laura; Reid, Kate; Lido, Catherine
Food Train and their University of Glasgow partners have written up a review of how they have been responding to older people's food needs during Covid19, and their views on where food policy must be improved.
Challenges – Moving from crisis to control In the first few weeks of COVID-19, the charity dealt with multiple challenges, including - the exponential increase in referrals (51%) for older customers looking for food deliveries - at the same time the loss of 250 existing volunteers representing 31% of the shopping service volunteer numbers. These were often older committed and experienced long-term volunteers who had to self-isolate. - like many others, Food Train has faced intense and urgent challenges over obtaining and distributing hand sanitiser and personal protective equipment (PPE), in particular masks, gloves and cleaning wipes.
Response – Expanding and adapting our services Despite these challenges, the charity has been adapting quickly to meet the new demands: - rapidly prioritising scaling up the shopping service - re-deploying staff to more critical operational roles - moving to contactless payment to minimise the need for physical contact with the older person. - created a new service called ‘Food Train Connects’ to extend support to other local authority areas - the new service matches older people with local community volunteers to offer a point of contact for support and help.
As a result, Food Train report: - 66% increase in weekly grocery deliveries - 972 more older people getting supplied with fresh groceries - 548 new volunteers recruited (44% expansion) - 1975 'check in' phone calls made - 20 temporary staff taken on, with financial support from the Scottish Government's Food Fund.
As well as meeting short-term need for food, recent findings from research carried out by Glasgow University with 169 older-age adults highlights the importance of longer-term support and social connection: "The physical need for food must be paired in the context of meaningful social interactions in order to reduce the risk of isolation and loneliness which create a vicious cycle of under-eating, poor self-care and low mood."
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