Arizona's Older Adults Facing Challenges With Food And Scams

Published: Saturday, March 28, 2020 - 2:05pm
Updated: Sunday, March 29, 2020 - 12:32pm

The Area Agency on Aging is scrambling to keep up with the increasing number of phone calls it's getting from older Arizonans concerned about the coronavirus. Mary Lynn Kasunic is president and CEO of the agency, which covers Maricopa County.

She says her agency usually fields about 250 calls a day. Since the pandemic, it’s receiving about 1,000 calls a day.

"So about 45% of the people that are calling us are just wanting to have questions about the coronavirus," she said. "We do have probably, you know, another 30% of callers who are wanting to know what our food options 

Kasunic says St. Mary’s Food Bank has been providing pallets of food almost daily, which workers can distribute to seniors. She also said that even though senior centers are closed, they still are providing grab-and-go meals, as well as delivering meals to homebound seniors through its Meals on Wheels program.

Another organization facing food challenges is Justa Center. Justa Center is an older adult day program that supports homeless seniors. They also help seniors who recently found housing -- those individuals are often living check to check, which means they may not have enough funds to buy food. That's where Justa Center tries to help. Justa Center will provide a bag of groceries to help tide that individual over.

 Wendy Johnson is the group’s executive director.

"There is a lack of shelf stable food that we can get to deliver to our seniors in housing," she said. "The food banks are taxed."

Governor Ducey said Wednesday, Arizona has received more than $5 million to help support meal delivery programs and senior centers.

And if that weren't enough, the Arizona Attorney General's office is reporting a spike in scams.

Fake COVID-19 cures, food shopping thieves, and door-to-door sanitation services are just some of the scams out there, according to the Arizona Attorney General's office. Katie Conner is with the AG. She says one scam has to do with the $2 trillion Coronavirus stimulus package.

"Scammers are trying to get ahead of government checks that are going to be issued. There are reports of Arizonans actually receiving text messages about being pre-qualified to receive money as a result of COVID-19."

And Conner says if you get one of those texts never give out any personal information like your social security number or bank account information. 

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