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Grant Provides Nutrition For Local Seniors
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Riverbank seniors in need of emergency grocery assistance will soon have a program that provides fresh produce and protein free of charge. The St. Vincent De Paul Society of St. Frances of Rome parish received a $2,500 grant from CareMore Foundation to provide nutritious meals to senior citizens in Riverbank.

CareMore Foundation gave a total of $10,000 in similar grants throughout Stanislaus County. Their goal with this campaign is to alleviate senior hunger by helping organizations that already provide food to seniors. Those food programs range from those similar to the St. Vincent De Paul society, which provides emergency food boxes, to programs that deliver groceries for senior citizens.

"Seniors who don't get enough to eat, or don't have the money for food or seniors who cannot get to the store for food often have compromised health due to their nutritional limitations," said Leeba Lessin, president of CareMore Health. "We want to help improve these dire hunger statistics in the communities where we provide medical care to many seniors."

St. Vincent De Paul Society in Riverbank offers emergency aid to local families. Twice a week they distribute food boxes and help with other emergency aid services including utility bills. Caren Sanchez, secretary for St. Frances of Rome, said that the program is mostly for emergencies and their goal is not to be serving the same families week after week.

"We help them with pretty much every service we can, except for paying their rent," Sanchez said.

The St. Vincent de Paul society gives boxes of food to about 50 families per week. Many of their food box recipients are senior citizens. Scott McRitchie, a volunteer, said that previously seniors received the same box of food as the general need population. McRitchie said that the group always strives to include fresh foods as often as possible, but that some nutritional needs were harder to meet than others.

"Protein is one of the harder things to find. We can't always purchase it from food banks and buying meat at the grocery store can get very expensive. Our budget limits doing that every week," McRitchie said.

The CareMore grant will allow the society to start a food program specifically for seniors. The grant will allow them to purchase meat, eggs and other protein sources and set them aside for seniors, along with fresh produce.

"Times are tough and we have a lot more people that we serve on a tighter budget. This will allow us to set something aside for our seniors," McRitchie said.

The St. Vincent de Paul society was one of four organizations in Stanislaus County that received CareMore grants. Howard Training Center in Modesto received $2,500 for their meals on wheels program that brings meals to homebound seniors. Interfaith Ministries in Modesto and United Samaritans Foundation of Turlock each received $2,500 for their senior grocery distribution programs.

Overall, CareMore Foundation distributed $77,000 in grants to 22 non-profit organizations that shared the goal of their "Food Security for Seniors" program. CareMore Foundation was founded to provide financial aid to senior based non-profit organizations. The foundation is a non-profit organization started by CareMore employee volunteers. CareMore is a senior health plan that offers services to seniors throughout Stanislaus County.