Arlington Charities, Handitran Partner to Help Seniors Visit Food Pantry Monthly
By Kate McGuire, Office of Communication
Posted on October 25, 2018, October 25, 2018

The City of Arlington's Handitran transportation service and the nonprofit Arlington Charities have teamed up to help residents in two retirement communities have better access to free groceries each month.

As part of a pilot program, Arlington Charities is paying for a small number of residents at Arlington New Beginning and the Magnolia Heights Retirement Community to take the City's Handitran shuttle service to its food pantry on the second Thursday and Friday of each month. This partnership aims to provide these residents, who have mobility or transportation issues, with the opportunity to select their own fresh meats, canned goods and other meal staples.

"Before we began this service, we delivered a bag of groceries to residents that we selected," said Olga Ultrera with Arlington Charities. "When we presented the idea of letting residents pick their own groceries, they were very interested. So, we went with it."

The City's Handitran service offers safe, friendly and reliable rideshare transportation to the elderly and persons with disabilities. Last fiscal year, Handitran provided a record-setting 130,599 rides to medical and dental appointments, stores, public facilities or other destinations.

In addition to transporting residents to and from the Arlington Charities' food pantry, Handitran drivers helps residents participating in the pilot program to load their groceries into the van and to get those packages to their front door.

"Handitran is a great opportunity to illustrate that there is a form of independence for those people who thought that they had none," said Bob Johnson, Handitran transit manager.

Arlington Charities, whose food pantry serves between 40 and 60 clients per day, launched its transportation pilot program in July. The City and the nonprofit say they are considering expanding the program to serve residents at two additional retirement communities next year.

"This project has given us an opportunity to look outside the box and figure out how we can help our community," Johnson said.


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