Snohomish County invests $1.4 million to address isolation, food insecurity for seniors

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Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced Friday that the county is investing $1.4 million of its federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding into programs that address equity, isolation, and food access among older adults.

Somers has also issued a proclamation recognizing May 2024 as Older Americans Month in Snohomish County, according to a news release.

“The pandemic increased loneliness, isolation, and related negative health impacts for many Snohomish County seniors. This exacerbated existing challenges older adults with fixed incomes face in accessing services to meet basic needs such as food, housing, and other types of assistance,” Somers said. “This Older Americans Month, we’re proud to support seniors in our community with investments that create connections and support access to life-affirming services.”

The Snohomish County Follow-Up COVID-19 Seniors Survey found that older adults in the county have been disproportionately affected by pandemic impacts, particularly regarding financial stability, access to care, and food security. Among respondents to the survey:

• Twelve percent were struggling with housing payments;

• Twenty-three percent rely on a caregiver; and

• Twenty-five percent used food assistance during the pandemic.

The county is supporting two Homage initiatives to help address isolation and food insecurity among older adults. First, the county has invested $225,000 to expand Homage’s Community Table Dining Program, which provides older adults with a nutritious meal alongside fun activities and help finding needed services.

Second, the county has invested $150,000 to hire a Community Outreach Worker to engage with older Black adults, inform them about community-based services, and assist them in applying for benefits to increase in economic and social stability. This expands existing services Homage provides for Korean, Chinese, Filipino, east Asian and Hispanic seniors.

“Homage’s multicultural groups and our Community Dining Program help foster a sense of community and belonging,” said Keith Bell, CEO of Homage. “Older adults often face a great deal of loneliness and isolation, which can significantly impact their overall health and well-being. By bringing folks together to share a meal or connect with others, we nourish their bodies — and souls.”

Additionally, the county has released a $400,000 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for proposals from senior centers to support new and/or expanded projects that address social isolation among older adults. There is strong evidence that many adults aged 50 and older are socially isolated or lonely in ways that put their health at risk.

Finally, the county is investing $600,000 to support nonprofit organizations that provide services to older adults. These organizations support social, emotional, physical and mental health to older adults who experience challenges accessing services due to limited cultural and linguistically appropriate options.

Executive Somers established the Office of Recovery & Resilience to guide the county’s recovery work by ensuring federal pandemic relief is administered quickly, effectively, and equitably. Information on the county’s recovery work can be found here.

  1. Perhaps the county can help finance the Homage Transportation Assistance Program.
    It is financially stressed and has had to cut back on rides for seniors and disabled people.
    This is a valuable service for the Snohomish community, especially for the elderly.

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