Collaboration offers more than 60,000 Optum patients in Los Angeles County food and delivery service to combat food insecurity.
LOS ANGELES (June 25, 2020) – Optum, a leading health services company, and Wider Circle, a tech-enabled community-based health care services company that drives better health for older adults and other vulnerable communities, have partnered with Helping Hands Community (HHC) to launch the “Community Food Circle” initiative to bring food to thousands of Optum patients in Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative supports Optum’s goal of helping people reach their health and well-being goals, including addressing social determinants of health.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, more than half a million households face barriers accessing nutritional foods. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problem. Even as some restrictions are lifted, older adults — especially those with chronic conditions — may still choose to avoid places with groups of people such as grocery stores. They may also lack transportation. The “Community Food Circle” initiative connects food donations and delivery to people in need.
“Our goal through this collaboration is to get food to people who are in urgent need,” said Jaime Ramos, M.D., regional medical director for Optum California. “Food security and health are so intertwined. Together with partners who share our commitment, we’re working to address this issue and build healthier communities.”
During today’s event, Optum volunteers from its AppleCare and HealthCare Partners physician groups, Wider Circle staff, volunteers from HHC and other community partners, packed and loaded food supplies into Uber vehicles. Uber drivers then delivered the food to Optum patients across Los Angeles County. HHC provides a tech-enabled platform that connects businesses and nonprofits who want to help, with local residents in need to create seamless, organized volunteer efforts.
“Helping Hands Community is thrilled to work with Optum and Wider Circle to bring our technology, volunteers and partnership with Uber to help facilitate and scale this massive delivery effort,” said Jeff Miller, CEO and co-founder of HHC. “With shelter-in-place orders lifting, the virus still presents a significant risk to the many LA residents vulnerable to COVID-19. HHC will continue to partner with nonprofit and corporate organizations to enable scalable delivery solutions to those in need.”
Since the beginning of California’s shelter-in-place order, Optum and Wider Circle have offered social support and meal delivery services free of charge to more than 20,000 Optum patients in Los Angeles County. Today’s partnerships with HHC expands the meal delivery service by offering it to an additional 60,000 Optum patients. Each food package provides an individual 10 days of food.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Wider Circle has partnered with Optum to facilitate social support services like peer-to-peer phone calls, meal delivery and virtual support groups that have been especially critical for seniors and other vulnerable populations,” said Darin Buxbaum, president and chief operating officer of Wider Circle. “Collaborating with Uber and Helping Hands Community allows us to further expand our efforts to alleviate food insecurity for thousands of seniors during this challenging time.”