For caregivers hungering for some help with meals, there are a multitude of programs and services throughout San Diego County that will deliver or provide meals that are tailored to seniors’ nutritional needs.
Food for thought: Seniors unable to cook for themselves, or for whom it’s dangerous to cook, often rely on carb, fat and salt-heavy packaged, processed and convenience foods. Those choices wreak havoc on their health and lead to — or exacerbate — heart disease, diabetes, constipation and other issues.
Added bonus: Meal delivery programs, such as those offered by Meals on Wheels and Jewish Family Service, have specially trained volunteers who also conduct safety checks on seniors, noting their well-being and reporting any concerns.
Keep in mind: Most programs have meals created by a registered dietitian. Make sure that’s the case before signing on to any service. Also, you can ask to have meals meet specific dietary needs.
Programs to know:
- Meals on Wheels Greater San Diego. Arguably the best-known of all the meal delivery programs, Meals on Wheels distributes food six days a week (Sunday meals are delivered Saturday) to residents countywide. It serves 450,000 meals to 3,300 meals clients a year. To be eligible, recipients must be 60 or older, a caregiver of a senior 60 or older, or a disabled veteran of any age. Three types of meal options are offered: heart-healthy; healthy Latino cuisine; and easy-to-chew meals. $35 one-time upfront charge, meals $4-$7. Cat and dog food also delivered for free through a partnership with the Helen Woodward Animal Center.
- Jewish Family Service.JFS’s Foodmobile serves San Diegans of any, or no, faith, providing hot, kosher meals to homebound seniors and younger adults with disabilities. Each year, 65,000 meals are delivered. Meals are delivered Monday-Friday and frozen meals are available for weekends and holidays, as well as for the parts of the county that don’t get daily delivery service. Meals are $7 or $8, depending on the size of the protein ordered. If eligible, recipients can pay on a sliding scale. Pet food can also be requested.
Contact: (858) 637-3230; jfssd.org
- Interfaith Community Services. One of this North County organization’s programs is a weekly lunch and social gathering at a food truck located at a four different senior mobile-home communities and one faith center in Vista, San Marcos and Oceanside. The North County Senior Connections “Thyme Together” food-truck program serves healthy, prepared-to-order meals for $4 and also features educational speakers and entertainment.
Contact: (760) 294-6356 ext. 103; interfaithservices.org
- Serving Seniors.This non-profit organization serves close to 600,000 meals a year to seniors at nine sites around the county as well as delivery to 500-plus homebound elderly residents. Breakfast and lunch is provided for those 60 and older seven days a week, 365 days a year, at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center at 1525 Fourth Ave., downtown San Diego. Communal meals are also served five days a week at locations that include City Heights, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, San Ysidro and Mira Mesa. Home-delivered meals are provided 365 days a year to 11 service areas throughout San Diego County. Since Serving Seniors primarily works with low-income residents, it asks for a small donation for meals, but seniors who can’t pay aren’t turned away.
Contact: (619) 235-6572 (for communal meals); (619) 487-0707 (for home-delivered meals); servingseniors.org
- The Salvation Army. Among the programs for seniors offered by The Salvation Army’s Club 60 are dining centers and home-delivered meals. The five Senior Dining & Social Centers are located in Chula Vista, El Cajon, Lakeside, Oceanside and San Diego. No charge for meals; a donation of up to $4 is suggested. Non-seniors pay a fee of $6. In the summer, the air-conditioned centers are designated as community Cool Zones. Meals can be delivered to select ZIP codes in Chula Vista, El Cajon and San Diego.
Contact: (619) 231-6000; sandiego.salvationarmy.org/san_diego2/love-the-elderly
Additional sources: For other senior centers and service organizations around San Diego that serve or deliver meals, see the county’s Aging & Independent Services list here, as well as 211’s service directory.
Also consider: A number of private delivery companies sell meal programs specifically adapted to seniors’ nutritional needs, including San Diego-based Martha’s Senior Gourmet and Silver Cuisine, which delivers ready-to-heat meals by FedEx. Schwan’s, the Poway online frozen food delivery company in business for 65 years, has more than 300 items and meals, which can all be ordered to suit a particular dietary need, such as low sodium or heart healthy. A special LiveSmart category makes it easy to order healthier fare.