Riverhead SAFE program to assist seniors sees 150 more users since it was unveiled

Riverhead Town’s Senior Assistance for Essentials program, known as SAFE, is now up to about 350 users, a 75% increase from the approximately 200 users when it first started on March 27, according to Supervisor Yvette Aguiar.

In addition, 21 businesses have signed on to the program, which aims to help senior citizens, veterans and the medically fragile.

“Someone who is medically fragile might not be a senior, for example, but they might be on a respirator,” Ms. Aguiar said.

Participating businesses include grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, delis, hardware stores and a pet supply store. The town updates the list of participating stores daily. 

The program allows participants to have food or other items from participating businesses delivered to their doors, so they can avoid leaving their homes and risking exposure to COVID-19. 

The program also helps the stores, since many are restricted to takeout or delivery.

The town’s senior center had also stopped serving meals to seniors more than a month ago because of the virus, but is instead delivering meals to approximately 270 residents at home, five days a week.

Program participants must first schedule their deliver by calling Riverhead SAFE at 631-727-3200, ext. 211, Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

They will then be given instructions on how to place their credit card order of 12 items or less, and town employees will then pick up the order and deliver it to the resident.

“We’re reaching out to everyone,” said Ms. Aguiar, whose first language was Spanish. “We’ve made reverse 911 calls in Spanish and put up flyers in Spanish-speaking markets and stores. It’s a pretty comprehensive outreach.”