How are you doing with food? For many vulnerable adults and seniors right now, the answer is not so good. The pantry is bare.

The County of Riverside and its community-based partners have rushed to address growing food insecurity with the new Courtesy Pantry program, a service available to seniors and adults with disabilities who are unable to go out to get essential food for themselves during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

The program was launched in late March by the county’s Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), and Office on Aging in collaboration with the Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley and The Salvation Army.

Organizers say the program is a demonstration of how public and nonprofit agencies are repurposing staff and resources while continuing to meet the needs of vulnerable households within their communities.

COVID-19 affected our clients’ ability to obtain food. Some of our drivers who make home deliveries were forced off the road, so we engaged the Office of Aging to help us deliver pantry boxes to those in need,” said Ryan Uhlenkott, deputy director of DPSS Adult Services Division.

Up until now, the pantry box program has delivered over 2,300 boxes to seniors and disabled adults across Riverside County.

The pantry boxes are distributed on a weekly basis to those who have shown the greatest need. The Salvation Army gets the food and fills the boxes. Habitat for Humanity stores, coordinates deliveries and distributes them without having to make contact.

“Because of COVID-19, a whole new set of needs emerged for vulnerable communities and we wanted to be there to help.  We had the infrastructure to support Riverside County’s desire to serve people unable to go to the store and pick up groceries for themselves,” shared Tammy Marine, executive director of Habitat for Humanity.

“We are honored to work with a county so in-tune and motivated to take care of its residents.  We now have some of our construction and ReStore team making deliveries and office staff coordinate communications and logistics.” Marine added.

Courtesy Pantry delivers up to a two-week supply of shelf-stable food and produce. Contents also include other essential items such as toilet paper and toothpaste, along with instructions on how to apply for benefits. The boxes typically arrive between five and seven days after requesting to be put on the list.

“I am extremely grateful for the food box delivery program”, said Lynn Pierce, a Riverside resident. “I have

Courtesy Pantry Box Program Delivers Essentials

Pantry Box Program

been sharing the food with my neighbors, so the support is being extended into my neighborhood.”

This Courtesy Pantry is available to persons age 60 and older and adults with disabilities living in Riverside County. To see if you qualify, call 1-800-510-2020.

Courtesy Pantry is one option to assist seniors with meals. Riverside County has partnered with various organizations, including Feeding America in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, which also offers a mobile pantry program and other resources to provide meals to seniors.


Image Sources

  • Pantry: Riverside County Department of Public Social Services
  • Pantry Box Program: Riverside County Department of Public Social Services