Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many seniors were at risk of social isolation and poor nutrition, due to a lack of infrastructure to care for our elders. HIP recognized the need for connection and nutrition and created the Senior Meals Program as a communal dining experience with fresh, healthy meals, as well as exercise. Also, seniors took an active role in running the program, by volunteering for cooking, set-up, clean-up, and serving.
Now that the pandemic has eliminated our ability to gather in person, there’s no doubt that seniors are more at risk. But HIP has been able to ease the impacts by providing some continuity with to-go meals and home deliveries, providing 40% more meals than this time last year. Here’s what some of our seniors have to say.
Oscar misses dancing
Oscar Hernandez’s (sharing an elbow bump with Emily Billow of Sound Generations) favorite day for Senior Meals was Wednesday when there was dancing at the Lake City Community Center before lunch. He found out about HIP through Sea Mar Community Health Centers and quickly became a volunteer. He loved helping with set-up.
Oscar misses the dancing and celebrations like Cinco de Mayo, the Salmon Bake, and the 4th of July since in-person gatherings were eliminated (he said “when they closed it down I cried), but still comes for the to-go meals. He also volunteers for the North Helpline food bank. HIP hopes to see Oscar dancing again soon.
Nancy tries new foods
Nancy Forhan (shown with her granddaughter) used to volunteer in the kitchen to prepare Senior Meals and now appreciates receiving regular meals. She likes the routine of getting out of the house to pick up a to-go lunch and praises the creative cooking. Nancy also finds herself eating more vegetables and discovering new options for protein.
Nancy asserts “Senior meals are so important because we humans are social creatures. Even if I just see people when I pick up a meal, it gives me a reason to get out of the house. Plus they’re so delicious. I just love HIP meals.”
Kathleen can avoid the crowds
Kathleen Leienbecker lives alone in her senior housing complex. She really looks forward to her HIP meal delivery days. “I’m a little lost without them on the days they don’t come,” she stated.
Kathleen used to go grocery shopping but finds that more difficult now as stores are crowded and she is slower. Having meals delivered allows her to stay home more often and still eat well.
Kathleen says “The food is delicious and very nutritious. It’s really better than anything I’ve ever tasted. And it’s very helpful to have it delivered.”