The Department of Elder Affairs is teaming up with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to delivered food to the elderly.
The partnership comes as meal sites for seniors are shutting down across the state in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
For most people, the virus causes only minor symptoms, however, it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and often death among the elderly and people with preexisting health conditions.
Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all restaurants to end dine-in service to prevent the virus’ spread. The order allows establishments to continue offering takeout and delivery services.
“By working together, our agencies will be able to ensure all of our 5.5 million seniors have safe access to food,” Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom said.
“Governor DeSantis has helped to facilitate this process and allowed restaurants and food establishments to become emergency meal vendors for Florida’s seniors who are homebound or self-isolating for protection. We are in constant communication with seniors and our senior-care providers around the state and we know this action will greatly increase the flexibility of our communities to access meal delivery.”
FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover added, “Restaurants are the very fabric of communities across Florida. Providing jobs, serving customers, and creating memorable experiences for guests are key in our hospitality industry, but our restaurants contribute so much more than that.
“Ensuring that older Floridians have access to food during this unprecedented time is important to our restaurant owners and employees, and we commend Governor DeSantis, Secretary Prudom, and Secretary Beshears for working with our to industry to help serve those in need.”
The Department of Elder Affairs said its 11 Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state will work with local volunteers and other local service providers to ensure meal delivery to Florida’s most vulnerable population.
The department said the service will also combat social isolation of seniors through the simple interaction of doorstep delivery.
On Wednesday morning, the Florida Department of Health said there were 1,682 cases of coronavirus in the state. So far, the disease has caused 22 deaths.
Though a statewide “stay-at-home” order has not been issued, several cities and counties have issued local ordinances ordering nonessential businesses to close and residents to stay at home as much as possible.