LAKEWOOD, Ohio — More than seven months after the pandemic forced Lakewood’s Division of Aging to cease transportation of seniors to the store, the city is restarting the program on Oct. 20.
“We’re starting with offering transportation on Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” Lakewood Department of Human Services Director Toni Gelsomino said. “We’re already filled for the first two weeks.
“If it looks like we have a need, we’ll add a third (day). We’re kind of finishing up the survey to get an idea of how many people actually need this.”
Offered in the morning and afternoon two days per week with a maximum of four people on each bus, grocery shopping transportation will follow strict social-distancing guidelines with all occupants required to wear masks.
Hand sanitizer will be available on each vehicle for personal use. Drivers will assist passengers with minimal contact. Also, all bus surfaces will be cleaned before and after each transport.
Since the stay-at-home spring, seniors have been requesting the grocery shopping program with transportation to Marc’s and Giant Eagle.
“The reason we’re restarting this now is the change of weather,” Gelsomino said. “We’ve had some people who have been managing to walk to the store, because the weather makes a big difference for older people. With us getting into fall and winter, we have to shift our services.”
During the warmer months, seniors took advantage of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box distribution, which was administered by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank at Lakewood High School parking lot.
Previously Lakewood’s Division of Aging were transporting upwards of 60 seniors a month. Gelsomino said it will be a challenge only serving at most 16 seniors a day.
“We want people to be able to have access to healthy food,” Gelsomino said. “Our nutrition supervisor reached out to Giant Eagle, which has also said they will work with us to try to limit the time that seniors have to wait in line.
“We want people to know if they cannot or are not comfortable going to the grocery store, to let us know if they need assistance. Seniors should know they can call us for anything — good, bad or ugly.”
For more information, call 216-521-1515.
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