Longtime Historic City News subscriber, Malea Guiriba, who is founder and executive director of one of St Johns County’s unsung charitable organizations, Pie in the Sky Community Alliance, fought back her emotions Friday to announce that their food delivery program for low-income senior citizens would discontinue service through March because of the coronavirus.
Guiriba reports that today, she is herself in a self-imposed quarantine because of her own autoimmune disease. She knows the importance of staying well. Guiriba was in the hospital and rehab for six weeks in 2018 after being paralyzed with a rare case of Guillain Barre syndrome.
“It’s absolutely heart wrenching,” Guiriba told First Coast News reporter Jessica Clark in a televised interview held by telephone. “I’m one of those vulnerable seniors, and I think we all owe it to each other, to the community, to stop doing whatever it is that’s causing this to spread.”
Guiriba reiterated that Pie in the Sky is still dedicated to fighting senior hunger in St. Johns County. So, she is now running the non-profit program over the phone. Guiriba said the program, which is officially “on hold” until April 1, is delivering fresh, healthy produce to 465 low-income, hungry seniors.
There are still 47 seniors, ranging in age from 67 to 98-years-old, on the waiting list. At the end of the suspension, they hope to resume delivering produce, meat and food to more than 400 low-income senior citizens, many of whom are homebound.
“We don’t want people to be hungry, but we don’t want them to be sick, either,” Guiriba said. “We decided we needed to be proactive, rather than reactive. And, it was hard to do.”
The program is stopping food deliveries to all their clients until April, at which time they will decide how to move forward. Guiriba boasts that for just $262.50, you can support a senior for one whole year. That’s less than .72 cents per day for fresh, nutritious food delivered to a hungry senior.
Guiriba and her staff want to come up with ways to be able to help their most in-need clients, so they’re considering ways to have food shipped. That means it will need more monetary donations because the program won’t be buying food inexpensively in bulk — but rather as the need arises.
“When we go to these houses and they ask us to put food in the refrigerator, we open their refrigerator and there’s a half a jar of mayonnaise, and a pickle and a bottle of water. I mean that’s it. That’s real.”Malea Guiriba
You can contact Guiriba through the Pie in the Sky website, where there is additional information.