The COVID-19 situation has dealt most of us some new challenges this year, but some of those at highest risk have had even greater challenges such as being able to obtain basic needs like food while self-isolating to reduce their risk of exposure.
The COVID-19 situation has dealt us at NEi3A some new challenges this year as well. With the 60 years and older population we serve is considered at high risk for complications of the virus and encouraged to self-isolate we saw a much-increased demand for our services, particularly home-delivered meals.
During the pandemic we immediately expanded our meal delivery options, congregate meal sites/senior centers had to be closed down, we began partnering with local grocers, restaurants, and meal delivery vendors to reach people in rural areas where we have not been able to serve before. With the increased partnerships, we were able to deliver over 237,000 meals to older individuals to help them remain safely and home and limit their exposure to the virus. That is triple the number of meals served the previous year!
We had never imagined that this would be much more than a month or two and turn into nearly 6 months with little to no sign of being over anytime soon. Some participants have chosen to leave the program as they feel safer venturing to grocery stores or letting friends or family deliver food to their homes however a great deal with compromised health have not and we still are serving record numbers.
A secondary impact of COVID for our agency has been having to cancel in persona awareness and fundraising events. Typically, throughout this period of time, our Annual Older Americans Month Walk, Senior Health and Information fairs, and Caregiver Education Events all of which bring in funding in the form of sponsorships. This year with increased demand and decreased funds your help is vital!
NEI3A coordinates services for individuals to help them maintain the independence they desire. We provide a wide variety of services, including but not limited to: home-delivered and congregate meals, information and assistance, options counseling, case management, ongoing support funding for services to assist older Iowans age in place, special assistance funding for one-time critical needs or home modifications, caregiver support and advocacy. Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A) serves 18 counties and assists approximately 120,000 people over the age of 60 each year.
At any given time our highest demand program is for the Home Delivered Meals Program but in current times it is the highest demand ever. Thank you for helping us continue to serve those in need!