New program delivers meals to at-risk OC residents during coronavirus pandemic

A group of Orange County nonprofit organizations, philanthropists and independent restaurant owners have come together to launch a new program called Delivering with Dignity, aimed at providing 5,000 high-quality, prepared meals per week to Orange County’s most vulnerable residents.

The first meals were dispatched on Wednesday, June 24 from Toast Kitchen & Bakery in Costa Mesa, where volunteers assembled more than 150 bags of food to be delivered to homebound individuals and families who, for various reasons, are not being served by other food programs.

Delivering with Dignity

Jack Toan, Orange County Delivering with Dignity committee member and Vice President, Community Relations at Wells Fargo (photo credit Albert Evangelista)

The program is completely funded through donations from local healthcare foundations, including St. Jude Medical Center, Mission Hospital, OC Community Resilience Fund and others that have collectively raised more than $235,000 to underwrite the effort.

According to the Delivering with Dignity website, the charitable program, which began earlier this year in Las Vegas, is working to identify individual recipients who need the program based on “Triple Threat” criteria: 1) At highest risk for COVID-19 per CDC guidelines; 2) Ineligible or not served by any community organization for the provision of food to their homes; 3) Financially unable to meet their food needs without leaving their home, and do not have a reliable support system of friends or family to assist.

Last month, the Orange County Register reported the need for food during the pandemic has produced a five-fold jump in calls to 2-1-1 Orange County, the county’s one-stop referral agency for social services resources.

“There are individuals and families who were just getting by but might not have qualified for public service programs pre-COVID-19 due to program barriers,” said Karen Williams, president and chief executive officer of 2-1-1 Orange County.

To learn more about qualifying for meals in Orange County, residents can call 2-1-1, visit 211OC.org or text your zip code to 898211. For more information or to donate to the program, visit https://www.deliveringwithdignityoc.org.