Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman
The Towns of Southampton and East Hampton took additional measures this week to ensure that senior citizens and other residents in need are taken care of during the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Monday, the Town of Southampton launched the “All Seniors Assistance Program,” or ASAP, to deliver essential items to senior citizens throughout the town, including the incorporated villages of Westhampton Beach, West Hampton Dunes, Quogue, Sagaponac, Sag Harbor and Southampton Village, and the Shinnecock Nation.
“The service is free of charge, and the objective is to keep seniors at home,” Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said on Friday. “I see too many of them going out for items they need right away — batteries, food items, toilet paper, paper towels — and we’re trying to assist the seniors with staying home.”
Town employees will help run the program, he said, and town vehicles will be used to transport goods.
Seniors can register by making a call to 631-702-1777 or by going to the town’s website at www.southamptontownny.gov. Once registered, a list of participating merchants with products they sell, along with their phone numbers, will appear.
Then, it is up to the senior to call the merchant, place the order and provide the merchant with a credit card number. From there, the merchant will compile the order, let the town know it is ready, and a town employee will pick up the order and deliver it to the senior.
“This is a challenge none of us have any experience with, none of us have seen anything quite like this before. It’s like somebody slammed the brakes on society,” Mr. Schneiderman said Monday morning. “We are just trying to get through this period of isolation, staying at home for potentially weeks to blunt the spread of the virus. That has economic impacts, mental health impacts, it’s creating all sorts of challenges and stresses.
“But there are a lot of soldiers in this battle,” he added. “The clerks at the grocery store, putting themselves at some risk to make sure we have what we need. A lot of people keeping things going, the healthcare workers so critical to being able to get through this, we all owe them a debt of gratitude.”
His hope is that small markets and drug stores that do not have the ability to deliver groceries will join in on the efforts.
On Monday evening, Town Board member Rick Martel said the program was currently in a sign-up phase, and deliveries were expected begin on Wednesday.
He said nearly 100 seniors had signed up for the program, but only about two dozen vendors.
“We need more vendors,” Mr. Martel said in a text. “I visited 24 businesses [on] Saturday from [Hampton Bays] to Eastport, to leave fliers.”
He noted that they need vendors of all types, whether they provide food, prescriptions or even basic hardware.
The Town of East Hampton is collaborating with Meals on Wheels, East End Cares and other not-for-profit organizations to reach out to the senior community and to those in need.
In a press release on Saturday, the town said the Human Services Department was calling seniors who use town programs, whether senior citizens or a member of the community with special needs.
“These calls serve as wellness checks and to ascertain if residents are in need of frozen meals, medical prescriptions, groceries, transportation to doctor’s appointments, etc.,” the release read. “Currently over 500 residents are receiving calls every other day.”
The people who may receive calls are those who are on the town’s special needs list, emergency list, in-home service program, adult daycare, senior nutrition program, senior transportation program and residential repair program.
Once contact is made, Human Services will work with drivers and staff members to deliver meals, go food shopping, and pick up prescriptions.
All people participating in the delivery efforts will be wearing gloves when handling any of the food or prescriptions.
The program kicked off on Monday, and anyone 60 years old and older were permitted to pick up five frozen meals at the senior center on Fireplace Road in Springs, without having to get out of their car.
The Human Services Department, the release read, has a kitchen staff that prepares frozen meals daily — they currently have over 150 frozen meals available to residents.
If someone cannot go to the senior center to pick up their meals curbside, they can call ahead to arrange for the food to be dropped off at their home.
Some other services that the department is directing residents to include Meals on Wheels, which offers sandwiches for lunch and hot meals for dinner.
Anyone looking to take advantage of the services can call 631-329-6939 to speak with someone in the East Hampton Human Service Department.
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