Drones Ferry Meds to Florida Retirees

CVS is testing a new delivery service, while California is pairing seniors and restaurants with free meals.

April 28, 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among seniors, a population that is highly vulnerable to the disease, companies are experimenting with safer ways to deliver food and necessities.

Starting next month, UPS Flight Forward, UPS’ drone subsidiary, and CVS Health will launch a drone delivery service bringing prescription medications to The Villages, a 32-square-mile retirement community in Central Florida, according to Business Insider. In November, UPS and CVS made history with the first-ever drone delivery of prescription medications from a CVS retailer to a residential home in Cary, North Carolina. UPS received the first nationwide FAA approval for its drone airline the previous month. 

UPS launched its drone-delivery program last year by moving goods around a single hospital campus and is now expanding that model to serve consumers. UPS is racing against rivals like Amazon, FedEx and Alphabet’s Wing Aviation to lead the drone-delivery space with the goal of providing profitable drone deliveries to consumers’ homes and businesses. 

Meanwhile, in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has launched a meal program to help ailing restaurants and furloughed restaurant workers while feeding the state’s vulnerable older residents, Nation’s Restaurant News reports.

Called “Restaurants Deliver: Home Meals for Seniors,” the program will reimburse California restaurants for providing seniors three free meals a day. The program is funded in partnership with FEMA.

Participating restaurants will provide nutritious meals for seniors and be reimbursed as follows: $16 for breakfast, $17 for lunch and up to $28 for dinner. Restaurants are expected to source foods from the local supply chain, including farms, to help reignite the California economy. Participating restaurants have not been announced, but the program is for independent restaurants, especially those forced to temporarily close during the COVID-19 crisis.

Restaurants wishing to participate should reach out to their local county officials, who are administering the program. FEMA will cover 75% of the program’s cost, and the remainder will be funded by the state (75%) and local governments. Newsom expects the program will rejuvenate sales tax revenue for local counties because millions of seniors will be eligible. An estimated 1.2 million seniors live in isolation in California.

The California Restaurant Association has previously pressed for more aid for the restaurant industry, noting that a vast majority of the state’s 90,000 restaurants are owned by independent proprietors.