Welcome to the May edition of Aging and Still Engaging, presented by the SLO County Commission on Aging (SLOCOA). The content of this month’s column is provided by Elias Nimeh, executive director of Meals That Connect (MTC), who recently spoke about the work of his agency at a SLOCOA gathering.
The mission of MTC is to enhance health, restore dignity, support independence, and reduce isolation for every San Luis Obispo County resident in need who is at least 60 years of age, by providing meaningful connections and free, hot, noon-time meals delivered to community dining sites or at home. They are the only program serving meals to seniors throughout the county and the only program offering congregate dining. Each year, MTC prepares and delivers around 156,000 meals to more than 1,500 county residents. Hot meals are delivered daily Monday through Friday to the homebound, with frozen meals delivered for Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. Roughly 60% of MTC clients receive home-delivered meals. For the remaining 40%, meals are provided at 10 community sites throughout the county for congregate dining.
Community sites are located in Atascadero, Cambria, Los Osos, Morro Bay, Nipomo, Oceano, Paso Robles, Santa Margarita, and at two locations in San Luis Obispo. For some seniors, these are the only balanced, healthy meals they eat each day. The congregate dining gives seniors the chance to socialize with others. And, when volunteers deliver meals to our homebound clients, they offer social contact as well as emergency assistance when necessary. The social contact the program provides helps to reduce isolation and depression, which are on the rise in our senior population. The program also helps keep seniors in their own homes and out of nursing homes.
The program gives preference in hiring to seniors in their kitchen and dining centers. MTC also collaborates with area agencies to promote intergenerational participation and routinely use interns and volunteers from nearby Cal Poly and Cuesta College. And PathPoint, an organization that provides training and support for people with disabilities, sends both young adults and seniors to work in the kitchen. Additionally MTC works with Grizzly Academy, a charter high school for at-risk young people, which sends cadets to “job-shadow” in the kitchen for two weeks at a time.
For more information about Meals That Connect, visit mealsthatconnect.org. There you will find links to monthly menus, volunteer opportunities, and, of course, a way to donate to support the program. People in need of the service or wanting more information can also call the office at 805-541-3312. And, they’re on Facebook! If you do Facebook, check them out — Meals That Connect. On the page, there are links to the monthly newsletters, photos, cartoons, volunteer spotlights, and links to interesting and informative articles about aging and caring for aging parents.
The San Luis Obispo County Commission on Aging invites the public to join us at the Veteran’s Hall on Grand Ave. in San Luis Obispo on Friday, May 18 from 10 a.m. – Noon. The presentation that day — Just The Facts — will be provided by three companies that offer a variety of in-home services for seniors. For more information about the Commission on Aging, visit slocounty.ca.gov/coa.htm, or call 805-235-5779.