American Lung Association and Helping Hands Community Partner to Deliver Fresh Food to Vulnerable People in New York City and Los Angeles During COVID-19 Pandemic

Pilot program offers food delivery service to residents with lung disease, lung cancer and those impacted by COVID-19

The American Lung Association is partnering with Helping Hands Community (HHC) to deliver food to thousands of vulnerable New York and Los Angeles residents with lung disease during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this partnership, the Lung Association aims to help those who are more at risk for COVID-19, or those who have or had respiratory illnesses by enabling them to maintain social distancing while still getting the essentials they need, including groceries, medicine, pet care, and more. The Lung Association will also be actively seeking sponsorships to assist those experiencing food insecurity due to losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

“As a physician who treats people living with lung disease, I think it is vital that we provide as much support as possible for those who are vulnerable to severe complications from COVID-19,” said American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer Albert Rizzo, M.D. “This new partnership between the Lung Association and Helping Hands Community will allow people with conditions such as lung cancer, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma to maintain social distancing without interrupting something as essential as grocery shopping.”

New York City and Los Angeles have been among the hardest hit cities by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the New York City Department of Health, there have been 224,920 confirmed cases and 18,966 confirmed deaths as of August 11, 2020. New York City is also home to 680,955 adults with asthma, 363,629 residents with COPD, and 4,842 with lung cancer. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health has similarly reported 211,808 cases and 5,057 deaths from COVID-19 as of August 11, 2020; the county alone is home to 673,459 adults with asthma, 358,244 people with COPD and 3,910 people with lung cancer. Between both cities, there are countless others with chronic lung disease, all of whom are more susceptible to severe complications if they do contract COVID-19. Those closely following CDC guidelines by staying home, avoiding crowds, and maintaining social distancing may wish to stay away from grocery stores or shopping areas, creating a gap in their ability to access nutritious groceries and meals.

In addition to health concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to an economic crisis, with both New York City and L.A. reporting unemployment rates close to 20%, compounding local food insecurity issues. According to Food Bank For New York City, more than 1.2 million New York City residents, or 14.4%, are food insecure. In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council reports that LA is home to the largest population of food insecure people in the nation, with nearly 30% of low-income people not knowing where their next meal will come from. The American Lung Association and Helping Hands Community Partnership will aim to alleviate some of this pressure by offering free delivery of fresh groceries, and the Lung Association is now seeking corporate sponsorships to help alleviate the full cost of groceries for those in need of financial support.

The American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine (1-800-LUNGUSA) will connect those in need with meal deliveries. Traditionally the Lung HelpLine has been a free resource that helps people with specific medical questions or those seeking information connect with a health professional. It is staffed by nurses and respiratory therapists who help people by providing information and answers to questions about the lungs, lung disease and lung health, as well as helping people quit tobacco. For the HHC partnership, the Lung HelpLine will relay them to the HHC volunteers who will shop for, package, and deliver meals. Helping Hands Community, a tech-enabled platform created to slow the spread of COVID-19, connects businesses and nonprofits with volunteers who can help deliver groceries, medicine, and other critical services to local residents in need.

“Helping Hands Community is thrilled to work with American Lung Association to help New Yorkers and Los Angelenos suffering from lung disease stay safe through the pandemic,” said Jeff Miller, CEO and co-founder of HHC. “With shelter-in-place orders lifting, the virus continues to present a significant risk to many. By partnering with the American Lung Association, we’re able to scale HHC’s delivery solutions to those most in need.”  

In Los Angeles, HHC has already worked with local organizations to serve thousands of meals to seniors and other most at-risk to COVID-19, as well as those struggling with food insecurity.

The HHC partnership adds to the American Lung Association's efforts to help those impacted by COVID-19. Earlier this summer, the Lung Association launched its new COVID-19 Action Initiative, which will invest $25 million over three years to expand COVID-19 research, increase access to vaccines and antivirals and prevent future respiratory pandemics.

Anyone in the New York or Los Angeles metro areas in need of a food delivery can contact the American Lung Association’s Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA. Information on corporate sponsorships is available by contacting 917-210-5650 or [email protected]. For media interested in speaking with a medical or policy expert about lung health or COVID-19, contact Jennifer Solomon at the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 516-680-8927.

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Solomon
(516) 680-8927
[email protected]

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