Lake County agencies distributing 15,000 pounds of food weekly to feed 450-plus senior households

Laketran’s Mentor Park-n-Ride location was transformed into a grocery delivery destination June 17 where over 450 Lake County seniors in need received boxes of produce and dairy items.

Offering a completely contactless pickup process, Laketran employees, community volunteers and elected officials alike, all equipped with personal protective equipment, worked together placing groceries in the trunks of seniors’ cars as they cruised through the lot.

To date, over 1,500 seniors have been served since the program launched in May.

The program has also expanded from serving 300 families to 450 each week. Originally slated to end in June, the program will now continue every Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m. through Aug. 12.

Among the crowd of volunteers was U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Bainbridge Township, who recognizes older adults have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“….With eight out of 10 coronavirus-related deaths having been individuals 65 and older, many seniors are still unable to go to the grocery store without fear of risking their health and well-being,” Joyce said. “It’s on all of us to step up and do our part to protect them. It’s uplifting to see such a collective effort to meet this need in our community. I was honored to help Laketran distribute groceries to hundreds of seniors today.”

Additional partners include the Lake County commissioners, the Greater Cleveland Food BankLifeline, Inc.Lake County Council on AgingLake Humane Society and RSVP of Lake County.

“During these difficult times, we have to work together to care for our most vulnerable and at-risk populations, and seniors make up a large part of that group in Lake County,” said Laketran Board President Brian Falkowski. “We know many seniors are not comfortable grocery shopping yet, so our agencies creatively found a way to get groceries to them in a safe way.”

According to Laketran, the distribution is made possible by the Farmers to Families Food Box, a United States Department of Agriculture-funded program created in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The produce and dairy are supplied by Northeast Ohio suppliers, the Sanson Co. and Miceli Dairy Products Co., all of which are Families-approved contractors.

“Our primary mission at Laketran is to help people,” said Laketran CEO Ben Capelle. “There was a need in our community and it’s great to have all these agencies come together to meet it. We are grateful to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank for recognizing our program and choosing it as a recipient of the Farmers to Families program.”

Through the county collaboration, Lake Humane Society is also distributing pet food to families. To date, the agency has helped to feed 214 dogs and 223 cats.

“During stressful times, pets are a great comfort and we never want someone to feel they have to give up their beloved pet because they can’t afford to feed them,” said Lori Caszatt, director of marketing and community partnerships.

“We are fortunate to have received a grant from Purina which provided Lake Humane Society with three large pallets of pet food that we can give to seniors through the duration of this important program,” she added.

Pre-registration for the distribution program is mandatory.

To register, Lake County seniors 60 and over can call Lifeline at 2-1-1 or the Lake County Council on Aging at 440-205-8111.