Seniors on the GO

NCMM's Promising Practices Database

Cape Ann Seniors on the Go

Fast Facts

Service: Cape Ann Seniors

Provider Organization: Gloucester Health Department

Funders: Housing Authority

Other partners: Public health department, disability services, housing agency, senior services, private, non-profit healthcare organizations

Project Description


Description: Cape Ann Seniors on the GO launched in October 2019 across the communities of Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester by-the-Sea to meet an identified need of improving access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity among low income older adults through increased transportation access. This pilot grew out of the work of the Cape Ann Mass in Motion coalition, a part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Municipal Wellness & Leadership Program. The need for food and physical activity access was identified through root cause analysis and examining high rates of chronic disease among older adults in our Cape Ann communities. Over half of older adults who reside in Gloucester have four or more comorbidities. 


During the COVID-19 pandemic technology access was needed to allow this priority population to access food, virtual fitness and engagement along with telehealth services. We began to address this emerging need through additional grant funding and working with Gloucester Housing Authority to equip their community room spaces with wifi access and workstations.


Transportation options for older low income adult residents in Gloucester were extremely limited at the time of our launch in the fall of 2019. Available options included fee-based services such as  CATA’s fixed route service and Dial-A-Ride service, limited taxi and ride-share services, and MBTA commuter rail service. Limited free transportation, for medical concerns only, were available through SeniorCare’s RSVP Volunteers, Cape Ann Veteran’s Service and the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery.


The pilot of Cape Ann Seniors on the GO launched from funding through Beth Israel Lahey Health’s Community Collaborative Grant and  the Massachusetts Community Compact Grant. The pilot was successful and helped us expand work and secure additional funds. We were selected as part of the inaugural class of grantees of the Massachusetts Community Health & Healthy Aging Fund.  Addison Gilbert Hospital provided additional funding to support our efforts with this program during the pandemic.

Impact:  Along with individual health benefits that come with better access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity, other related aspects of this work have proven beneficial to residents and the community at large such as: 

  • Increased revenue for the local food economy and other businesses with our regularly scheduled access trips. 
  • Working towards decreasing the “SNAP gap” and increasing usage of HIP among older adults in Gloucester through regularly scheduled food access trips and education for the priority population. It is important for those who qualify and need these benefits to use them. It provides them with a reliable way to choose the food they need and want. Having this financial assistance equals less reliance on emergency services like food pantries.. And utilizing these benefits brings in more revenue into the local food economy. 
  • Increased involvement of the priority population with the Rose Baker Senior Center programs and services such as lunches, monthly mobile market and classes.
  • Supporting local fishermen and farmers through patronage of area markets helps to keep local residents employed and protects scarce farmland in Essex County. 
  • New and strengthened partnerships between municipal departments and local organizations which has led to additional beneficial opportunities for residents.
  • Decreasing community carbon footprint by utilizing group rides via transit versus individual vehicle/taxi/ride share trips to access locations. 

Lessons Learned: We discovered that an unintended benefit of this work is the impact it has on decreasing social isolation among older adults. Group transportation is provided for all of our scheduled trips and has led to Cape Ann Seniors on the GO becoming its own community of sorts. Participants have made strong connections with staff, bus drivers and each other.  Participants have made new friends, shared recipes, and have even made plans for connecting outside of our bus trips. A common theme we find is they love their time on the bus chatting about the “good old days” in Gloucester. 

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