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By Lillian Boyd

Orange County Board Supervisor Lisa Bartlett has launched the COVID-19 Nutrition Gap Program (NGP) after seeing members of the Fifth District’s most vulnerable population suffering from food insecurity, her office announced Wednesday, Oct. 7.

The program serves seniors aged 55 and older, individuals with a disability and military veterans, regardless of age. It is designed to provide bi-weekly deliveries of food boxes to participants in the program.

“COVID-19 has made it extremely difficult for our seniors, veterans and disabled residents to keep food on the table,” Bartlett said in the announcement. “Some are afraid to go to the grocery store for fear of catching COVID, or simply don’t have the means necessary to get there. That is why it was so important this program include a delivery service, so we can bring food directly to them.”

Photo: Gustavo Fring/Pexels

Each food box contains groceries, fresh produce and prepared meals provided by Second Harvest Food Bank and Ruby’s Diner, located in the Outlets at San Clemente.

“No one should face a hunger crisis on top of the COVID-19 crisis, especially those who are most vulnerable. We are humbled to partner on this important project designed to address nutrition gaps by delivering meals to those in need,” said Harald Herrmann, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.

A special launch event for the program is set for Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. at Ruby’s Diner located at the Outlets at San Clemente at 101 West Avenida Vista Hermosa, San Clemente.

The program will be administered by 2-1-1 Orange County, which will coordinate participant registration, food assembly and delivery.

The program is funded through the federal CARES Act program. To qualify, district residents must not be receiving assistance from other state or federal programs, such as CalFresh, Title III-C of the Older Americas Act (Congregate and Home-Delivered Meals), the Great Plates Delivered Program, and others.

Priority will be given to individuals experiencing food insecurity due to age and/or disability, economic status, lack of familial or community support, lack of access to available resources, and those who have military service.

Participants must reside in District 5 cities including Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, portions of Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, and the unincorporated communities of Coto de Caza, Emerald Bay, Ladera Ranch, Las Flores Rancho Mission Viejo, Stonecliffe, and Wagon Wheel.

Prospective participants will self-certify eligibility for the program. To check eligibility and to register, visit fdngp.211oc.org or call 2-1-1. You can also text your zip code to 898211.

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