ATLANTA – Senior residents living in nine National Church Residences’ affordable housing communities in metro Atlanta who were once food insecure, are now receiving free meals every day, thanks to the hard work of the staff and community partners. In fact, senior residents without food challenges also are offered the option of receiving free meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization estimates more than 44,000 meals will be distributed to seniors over the next 12 weeks. 

Jacque Thornton, Population Health Director for National Church Residences, carries frozen meals from Big Bethel Village’s commercial kitchen freezer to distribute to elders in Fulton and DeKalb counties. (Photo Credit: Courtney Bush Photography)

Leading this initiative is Jacque Thornton, population health director of Georgia for National Church Residences. With COVID-19 upending daily life, many seniors are finding their access to food limited and their social isolation increased. When COVID-19 hit, Thornton said she knew immediately that the unused commercial kitchen at Big Bethel Village could be converted into a food hub for seniors in need during the crisis. The kitchen closed two years ago as interest in the dining service had declined.

After reopening the kitchen, National Church Residences became the recipient of a $250,000 grant from the Fulton County COVID-19 Emergency Relief fund. In addition, the nonprofit organization received $95,000 from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery grant from the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, a joint effort from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta. 

The organization is utilizing the funding to support the centralized, on-demand food service for seniors, formerly homeless and people with disabilities in Fulton and DeKalb counties. Volunteers are helping to organize and deliver food weekly to residents.  

“As COVID-19 continues to change the landscape of our nation every day, National Church Residences’ top priority is to ensure that the basic care needs of our senior residents are met,” said Thornton. “Locally, for the nearly 1,500 residents we serve, our goal is to guarantee they have food, access to medication, transportation, cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment during this critical time.” 

COVID-19 Response and Recovery grants are detailed on both the Community Foundation’s website and United Way’s website. Residents seeking more information about assistance programs and Fulton County’s COVID-19 response can log on to

About National Church Residences National Church Residences serves more than 42,000 seniors through its array of housing and health care services. The not-for-profit organization is driven by a vision of advancing better living for all seniors, enabling them to remain home for life. With 340 communities in 25 states and Puerto Rico, it is the nation’s largest not-for-profit provider of affordable senior housing and the largest manager of service coordinators. The organization also offers residential senior communities, home and community-based services, as well as permanent supportive housing for the formerly homeless and disabled. For more information, visit us at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.