Photo: Shurla Lovejoy
Dignity Health Connected Living – Feeding Shasta County
In Shasta County there is a caring and compassionate organization called Dignity Health Connected Living, previously known as Shasta Senior Nutrition. The Shasta Senior Nutrition Program merged into Golden Umbrella to become Dignity Health Connected Living and has maintained their private nonprofit agency status. They are a subsidiary of Mercy Medical Center and a Dignity Health member.
Their goal is to provide services to enrich, enhance, maintain, sustain and help make more productive lives of seniors, adults with disabilities, and other adults in need. This nonprofit focuses daily on feeding the hungry in its community. Manager of Operations Shurla Lovejoy has been dedicated to this food bank and its services for 18 years. She and her team of 2 staff and ten volunteers run this busy food bank. They have volunteers who help put the word out to their friends so they have a steady stream of volunteers, and they have access to Americorps Seniors for recruiting more volunteers.
Shurla first got involved with Dignity Health while delivering Meals on Wheels in her area, and an opening came up. Giving back to the community has been her calling, and the Food Bank Manager at MOW recruited her immediately. Dignity Health Connected Living focuses on TEFAP distributions to low-income families and individuals serving all of Shasta County. She says the best part about her job is getting food to people who need it.
Doing Great Work in a Small Space
This organization operates in a small but efficient space where it acts as a warehouse, packing center, and administration. Dignity Health Connected Living has a small fleet of trucks, vans, and storage containers to assist with additional storage space. The drivers travel hundreds of miles monthly to various distribution sites to feed community members.
They have 14 TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program) and CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program) distributions throughout Shasta County. And they offer 8 Senior Brown Bag program distributions and distribute emergency food through 2 Surplus Donated Food distributions. This food bank stays busy servicing approximately 10,000 community members a month.
And it’s not only about feeding people. Dignity Health Connected Living also provides programs such as adult day programs, case management, social services, health-related services, in-home support services, and other programs that promote independence and enhance the quality of life.
“Over the past few years, many seniors don’t seem to come out as much. Our CSFP program has been cut nearly in half, but we are starting to get new registration,” said Lovejoy. Shurla is also a member of the TEFAP Advisory Committee. The committee requested and was granted by the state an increase to 235% in California’s poverty level income allowance. This increase allowed them to serve more individuals and families. Like most food banks, due to COVID-19, their facility received an enormous amount of additional produce and bonus TEFAP items. They have been able to help a lot more people.
Distributions Continued Through COVID-19
Dignity Health Connected Living never closed during COVID-19, and Lovejoy said they were very grateful to be able to continue distributions. They work with various donors, such as Feeding America, which provides extra pallets of donated foods. Lovejoy stated, “Grocery prices are crazy, and this is why so many more people are going to food banks than ever before. We have regular distributions throughout Shasta County, all of which are drive-thru now.”
They get the word out about their food distributions through news releases and have partnered with Shasta 211 for all distributions. One of the challenges of delivering food to their community is having older trucks that keep breaking down. Shurla and her team continue to work through these challenges and stay focused on their goal of feeding their community.