Sights for Hope’s Transport Service Provides Important Link to Food Access

While food access has gained attention nationally in recent months, Sights for Hope’s guided transport service has increased its clients’ abilities to obtain sufficient and healthy foods for years.

In its 2021-2022 service year, Sights for Hope provided 404 transports to grocery stores, food banks, and pantries throughout the Lehigh Valley and Monroe County. A total of 76% of its clients reported improved access to nutritious foods.

From July 2020 through September 2021, Sights for Hope transport drivers picked up and delivered groceries to clients’ homes instead of providing rides. Since approximately 65% of Sights for Hope’s clients are ages 65 and up, this shift helped to decrease a vulnerable population’s exposure to the COVID-19 virus. A total of 165 deliveries were made during that time.

Sights for Hope’s transport service is “door-through-door,” which means that its specially-trained drivers provide safe rides; guide clients from their homes and into their destinations; and provide additional assistance, such as reading paperwork and carrying bags. While there is a ticket fee of $3.50 per trip, or $7 per round trip, no client is denied a transport due to financial hardship. A total of 41% of Sights for Hope clients live below or near the federal poverty threshold and 85% of them live at or below 300% of the poverty line. When fuel prices spiked at nearly $5 per gallon earlier this year, Sights for Hope chose not to increase its ticket prices.

“As the national dialogue about food access expands, it is important to realize that the key barrier for some individuals is simply the inability to go to where food supplies are,” said Dennis Zehner, Executive Director and CEO of Sights for Hope. “Transportation is a significant challenge for people with visual impairments, and it has been cited as a one of the most prominent problems for older adults in general. By providing transports at affordable prices, especially to those who cannot afford other ride or delivery options, our team is working diligently to combat this crisis in our communities.”

Sights for Hope transforms the lives of people with visual impairments and blindness by removing the barriers to their independence. Sights for Hope’s services teach adaptive skills to accomplish daily life activities; provide supports that counter the effects of visual impairments and blindness; increase access to medical care, healthy food, and other essentials; and advance solutions that enhance sight capabilities. More than 40% of Sights for Hope’s clients live below or near the federal poverty line. Founded in 1928, Sights for Hope carries forward in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and Monroe County a tradition of service inspired by Helen Keller and is a member of the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind.

Image: An older woman with glasses in a grocery store while wearing a face mask