October is Disability Awareness Month – a month to honor individuals whom our King County Metro Access paratransit team celebrates all year long.

Metro’s Access paratransit service provides around one million trips each year to our Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) customers, allowing them to maintain independence and have access to whatever they need to thrive. It’s just one way Metro lives out its mission to provide mobility for all.

In a pandemic, that mobility has looked a little different: Access paratransit has mobilized both people and the food they depended on as a part of its COVID-19 response.

In March, many food banks and other social service providers began moving to curbside pickups, and hot meal programs had to close their locations in adherence to the guidance of public health and elected officials.

“We began delivering food to our Access paratransit riders who were unable to visit food banks or other social service providers due to COVID-19,” said Gwen Clemens, Metro’s managing director of contracted services, which runs Access paratransit. “We thought, ‘If our riders can’t be mobile, could we make the resources mobile?’”

As more of Metro’s Access riders followed public health guidance to stay home, the program had drivers and vans available to expand the food delivery service to other community members in need.

Over the last six months, Access paratransit has served more than 10,000 families.

“It’s been our privilege to partner with 25 nonprofits to connect some of our region’s most vulnerable with groceries and hot meals,” said Gwen. “We’re humbled by creativity and partnership that’s made this food delivery program possible.”

Watch this King County TV video featuring Access food delivery driver Khadar Mohamed, one of our Access customers who has been a recipient, and Metro contracted services managing director Gwen Clemens.

Customers in need of food delivery can contact their local food bank or meal program. Non-profit agencies (e.g., food banks and meal programs) seeking more information on this program can contact don.okazaki@kingcounty.gov.