Serving Seniors During Times of Crisis
June 25, 2020Jim Oswald

I can’t breathe.

Those now-famous words continue to reverberate and resonate with all of us today and cause us to look at and acknowledge the raw side of racial inequality and its devastating effects in black and brown communities.

Even before George Floyd’s tragic and unnecessary death, we knew that racism and economic and social disparities were real within our community of seniors we serve. We see the hidden truth every day when we make our meal deliveries. With more than 25 percent of our meal recipients identifying as African American, and 73 percent of our clients, overall, that live on less than $1,000 a month in San Francisco, we know that people of color do not have the same opportunities to enjoy financial stability, healthcare, and access to food and housing, compared to other populations.

The coronavirus pandemic also revealed inequalities among the population of black and brown people. According to data from the California Department of Public Health, African Americans represent 6 percent of the population in California. There have been 5,296 documented COVID-19 cases within that population as of June 18, 2020, yet, disproportinately, the percentage of African Americans that died from the coronavirus is 10% or about 529 deaths in the state.

Similarly, according to, which tracks COVID-19 stats for SF County, there are a total of 3,057 COVID-19 documented cases as of june 18, 2020, in the county to date with 49% of the Hispanic-Latino population tested positive, or about 1,497individuals. Latinos make up about 15% of San Francisco’s population. Sadly, across the entire state, Latinos represent both the highest number of cases and deaths out of all other ethnic populations.

As the country celebrates Juneteenth, the day commemorating the end to slavery in the U.S. on June 19, we have a rare moment for our communities to proclaim in one voice that Black Lives Matter. Learn about Juneteenth virtual celebrations in the Bay Area, here.

For the past 50 years, our mission continues to be simple and grand at the same time; serve the San Francisco community of older adults with what they need to live in their homes independently and safely and without fear of wondering where or when their next meal may come. Treating all with dignity, respect, and empathy is ingrained in the Meals on Wheels culture and will continue to be our guide as we enter into a new era of serving thousands of older adults of all ethnicities in need of nutritious food and services that help them thrive at home.


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