Delivery drivers work with nonprofits to help low-income seniors

Local groups are working together to provide food to low-income seniors struggling to make ends meet. United Way Northeast Florida says when the pandemic started there was a 400 percent increase in need of food from people who utilize its services. News4Jax reporter Lena Pringle spoke with a woman who relies on this help.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – United Way Worldwide and DoorDash are collaborating to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and deliver food and supplies to vulnerable populations, including seniors, in communities across the country.

News4Jax is deeming this a Positively Jax effort as United Way of Northeast Florida is localizing this broader initiative through collaborative partnerships including a senior-specific pilot program with nonprofit community partner Catholic Charities Jacksonville.

The local groups are teaming up to provide food to low-income seniors struggling to make ends meet.

United Way Northeast Florida says when the pandemic started there was a 400 percent increase in need of food from people who utilize its services – 7 months later and people are still needing access to food daily.

The groups deliver food directly to 150 seniors living in low-income apartments.

For the senior residents receiving this weekly food, they say this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It is difficult at this time for us seniors to go out. It’s very difficult. But we thankful because they come to us. So that is a plus,” said Matilda Brignoni, senior resident.

Matilda Brignoni said navigating the pandemic as a senior has been challenging due to the lack of access.

“That had been hard. Because we just go to the store or go to the pharmacy where we have to go and be back home,” said Brignoni.

Brignoni is now enrolled in a new pilot program that delivers about 20 pounds of food every Wednesday to seniors living in low-income apartments through DoorDash.

This partnership between local non-profits and the food delivery service is moving 2 to 3 thousand pounds of food weekly to seniors who need it the most in Jacksonville.

“This service has allowed our residents to not worry about where their next meal is going to come from. It has allowed them to stay home and be safe,” said Alma Ballard, Family Housing Management Executive Director.

“Before the pandemic hit about 40% of our households in Duval County were already struggling to make ends meet and they’re one crisis away from slipping into poverty. COVID-19 has only exacerbated that situation and we’re getting incredible demands from our callers at 211 for basic needs including food,” said Jeff Winkler, United Way Northeast Florida.

The organizations say low-income seniors have faced more challenges than most during the pandemic, including:

  • Economic fallout that has squeezed already tight budgets
  • Increased isolation to protect against the virus
  • Lack of reliable access to transportation for those living in food deserts
  • Inability to travel to grocery stores or food pantries due to physical disabilities or health risks associated with the pandemic.

While this new service is providing necessities like food, it is also providing a little social interaction for these seniors.

“They’re lonely. This is like people are coming to my door, bringing me groceries. We can come out in a safe socially distant manner and pick up a bag of groceries. It just made them feel like the community needs them,” said Ballard.

Individuals in need or who are looking for information for someone else can call United Way 211 from a cell phone or landline by dialing 2-1-1 or 904-632-0600. Those seeking help can also visit for more contact options.

This DoorDash program is not taking on any new participants right now, but there are many similar services and resources that the United Way can connect struggling families during this difficult time.

This pilot program will provide more than one thousand deliveries to seniors over 6 weeks – totaling more than 21,500 pounds of food.

To boost this specific pilot program, Catholic Charities Jacksonville received support from Farm Share as well as direct funds from Ascension St. Vincent’s Foundation to ensure its team could reach as many seniors as possible in the most efficient manner.