National Nutrition Month: Go Further with Food

March 27, 2018 - Paul Downey

Whether it was via a pyramid or plate diagram, most of us were taught that we should “eat the rainbow” every day in order to get the recommended daily amounts of vitamins, minerals and health benefits from our food. And most of us take for granted that we have easy access to fresh produce and balanced meals. We have options. We don’t think twice about the food choices at our fingertips.

Now imagine if you were living on just a few dollars a day. Would fresh produce or balanced meals be at the top of your list of concerns? Probably not. You’d likely be more worried about paying rent, affording medications, maybe getting to and from work or appointments. That’s the reality that many of our senior clients are living. Many of them can’t afford fresh foods or balanced meals. Our senior clients’ income, mostly in the form of Social Security, averages $950/month.

Access and Affordability

According to the Elder Index, developed by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research, a single senior in San Diego needs an income of $1,974/month to afford basic rent, food, health costs and transportation. By this calculation, 41% of San Diego seniors live below the Elder Index. With a population of 202,413 adults aged 62 above, San Diego is home to nearly 83,000 seniors who have to choose between paying rent and purchasing food every day.

With limited access to nutritious food, most seniors initially arrive at Serving Seniors suffering from malnourishment or chronic health conditions related to poor nutrition, including high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Health concerns, especially prolonged issues, reduce seniors’ quality of life and drive already-poor seniors even deeper into poverty, increasing their reliance on community-funded programs, as most are single or widowed with little or no familial support.

Helping Seniors Stay Healthy, One Meal at a Time

Fortunately, many of the chronic diseases older adults face are preventable through healthy eating. Since its founding in 1970, Serving Seniors has served more than 11 million nutritious meals, developed in partnership with a registered nutritionist and optimized for the nutritional needs of older adults, and has seen first-hand the beneficial effects of reliable access to healthy food. Between nine congregate dining sites and delivering daily meals to 500 homebound seniors, we serve nearly 2,000 meals daily, every day of the year.

The meals we serve accommodate a variety of dietary needs, including low-sodium and low-fat diets, and are often the only source of food for San Diego seniors who would otherwise go hungry. And the benefits of a healthy diet are profound: increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, faster recuperation after illness and medical procedures, higher energy levels and more.

So Much More Than Meals

Serving Seniors’ nutrition program provides much more than food and senior-specific nutrition education – it brings seniors, most of whom live alone, together for camaraderie. This socialization is invaluable to our clients. In almost every case, our seniors tell us that they keep coming to our Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center for the companionship as much as the meals, and that the combination of friendship and healthy food has helped them remain healthy, active and independent. They join walking and hobby groups, take fitness classes, attend cooking demonstrations, play games, learn how to use computers and much more.

You (and Your Taxes) Benefit From Healthy Senior Neighbors, Too

Healthy people use fewer expensive public resources, such as ambulance transport and emergency room care. According to American Medical Response San Diego, the cost of an ambulance transport is about $1,800; Medicare pays only about $434 and Medi-Cal pays only $118. For roughly the same cost as an ambulance ride, Serving Seniors can feed a senior for an entire year. When nutritious food has been proven to be as important as medicine, especially for older adults, it makes financial sense to help our elder neighbors stay healthy in the first place. After all, as a supremely wise man once said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

In honor of National Nutrition Month, please consider supporting Serving Seniors’ nutrition program.

Holiday Meal Drive

November 17, 2017 - Paul Downey

For many of us, the holiday season means gathering with friends and family for feasting and gifts. It means vacations and visits and cozy fires in the hearth.

But what if the only thing the holiday season brought you was aching hunger, cold hands and feet, and nights spent wondering whether you’d eat tomorrow? Hunger is an everyday problem in San Diego – our elderly neighbors are starving. Please help us feed them.

Food or Shelter?

Thousands of our senior neighbors are living on Social Security incomes of less than $1,000 per month. Many are isolated and depressed – nearly half of them have to choose between rent and food, every single day. The majority of them will not celebrate the holidays with feasting or gifts. They will be too busy trying to survive – to scrape together spare change for their next meal – to celebrate the holidays at all.

The most common reason that our senior neighbors come to us is to receive a meal. No one is ever turned away, and we serve nearly 2,000 meals to more than 800 seniors every single day of the year.

$2.50 Feeds a Hungry Senior

A single meal costs us $2.50 to prepare and serve to a senior in need. This holiday season we want to raise $25,000, which will provide 10,000 senior meals. In the spirit of #GivingTuesday, which is quickly approaching, I’m asking you to make a donation to help us feed our senior clients. Your gift today will ensure that low-income seniors will have lifesaving food this holiday season.

I hope that you will help eradicate hunger for San Diego’s seniors this #GivingTuesday. Every contribution, however large or small, helps a senior in need.

With gratitude,

Paul Downey
President and CEO, Serving Seniors

Additional Ways to Support Serving Seniors:

For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, 0.5% of the purchase price is donated to the customer’s selected charitable organization. To begin shopping with Serving Seniors as your charity of choice, click here.

Double your donation with matching funds from your employer. Check with your HR department for information on your company’s matching gift programs. Employer matching gifts may also be available to you if you are the spouse of an employee whose company participates in matching gifts.

Options for including Serving Seniors in your estate or financial planning include: securities transfers, IRA rollovers, endowment gifts, bequests/estates, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, gifts of real estate, gifts of retirement assets, gifts of stock, gifts through a will or trust, and more. More Info

Recurring donations are the best way to provide steady support. Use our secure online form to become a monthly donor, and you’ll ensure we have the resources to provide seniors with the support network they deserve. More Info

Are you a member of Thrivent Financial? Make Serving Seniors the beneficiary of you Thrivent Choice dollars. Learn More

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National Nutrition Month

March 22, 2017 - Serving Seniors




National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

The theme for 2017 is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”, which acts as a reminder that each bite counts. Making small changes in our food choices to make healthier decisions can have a lasting impact on our overall health and well-being.  Being conscience about our health is especially important for older adults whether you are planning meals to prepare at home, joining us at one of our congregate dining sites or looking to become more active, Serving Seniors has your resources!

At Serving Seniors we strive to “Put Our Best Fork Forward” by offering many resources for seniors to stay healthy:

  • We serve meals at 10 congregate dining site that include a variety of healthful foods.
  • Hold cooking classes to help prepare seniors for healthy cooking on a budget at home.
  • Nurse Case Managers meet with seniors to help manage weight and other health-related needs.
  • And we have a variety of exercise activities to enjoy and be physically active most days of the week

Check out our website for more information about the classes, meals and nurse case management we offer for seniors to stay healthy!

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