Older Californians Nutrition Program Stories

Share Your Work!

Tells us how your Older Adult Nutrition Program is making a difference for older adults

  • Send us your success stories, best practices, and innovative work to highlight your Older Adult Nutrition Program. Please include photos!
  • Many of the stories we receive will be posted throughout the month of March on our Older Adult Nutrition Program Success Stories page.
  • Stories may also be shared with ACL for posting on their website during the month of March.
  • Click here to “Share Your Work!”
  • Please to complete the fillable form and send to cdanutritionandhealthpromotion@aging.ca.gov between now and March 31st.

Read the success stories that have been submitted below.

Older Californian Nutrition Program Success Stories!

El Dorado County Area Agency on Aging, PSA 29 - Senior Nutrition Program

Teri Benson, Food Service Supervisor
Teri Benson, Food Service Supervisor

The shut-down began in March 2020. Like so many programs and services affected by COVID 19, the El Dorado County Senior Nutrition Program closed eight community dining centers and lost many home-delivered meal (HDM) volunteers. While this moment was unprecedented, it was met with the resilience of many new volunteers who stepped forward to offer their help and support.

As the overnight transition was made from sit down dining to "take-out" meal service, small teams of volunteers have continued to arrive at 7:30 am Monday through Friday to help our West Slope kitchen staff wrap more than 700 cold packs that accompany the hot entree being served each day. In addition to wrapping cold packs, volunteers assembled 350 grocery boxes for weekly distribution to take-out meal and HDM participants, totaling more than 17,000 grocery boxes between May 2020 - April 2021.

The small, rural communities of El Dorado County have been served by five take-out meal locations on the western slope of the Sierras, and one location in the city of South Lake Tahoe. The participation was overwhelmingly positive. During the first week of the closure in March 2020, 449 take-out meals were provided to 122 unduplicated seniors. A year later, during the week of March 22, 2021, 1,721 take-out meals were provided to 423 unduplicated seniors.

By continuing to provide meals through take-out and HDM service, Nutrition staff and HDM volunteers have been able to maintain a vital social connection with our senior community to help assure their continued health, wellness and safety. Take-out meal service was also enhanced by the valuable opportunity to collaborate with Senior Information and Assistance staff, Home Energy and Assistance (HEAP) program staff, and regional food banks to provide additional resources and services to seniors in need.

The results of a recent survey helped affirm the importance of nutrition programs when asked, “What do you feel is the best part of the Senior Nutrition Program?”:

  • "We eat much healthier, plus it is an excellent value for our limited income."
  • "Ease of getting meals and seeing other seniors."
  • "Ensures a healthy and tasty meal."
  • "Provides healthy, affordable variety of meals."
  • “It helps me provide a healthy, more varied diet for my mom – and an additional benefit, I eat a healthier more varied diet too.”

ONEgeneration Senior Enrichment Center & Adult Daycare Center, PSA 25

ONEgeneration meal delivery with Ali and Dolores

In March 2020, as a result of closing all in-person programming due to COVID-19, ONEgeneration shifted the focus and delivery of all social service programs to address the immediate and evolving needs of quarantined older adults, family caregivers, and unemployed adults. Our programs have converted to home-based, drive-through, or virtual engagements responding to the increasing food insecurity and need for social services among the disadvantaged populations we serve. ONEgeneration is feeding an average of 2500 households each month. We pick up daily and deliver perishable and nonperishable food items from over ten local markets to our most frail, homebound community, including those grandparents who care for grandchildren and cannot get to the market on their own. ONEgeneration is delivering over 200,000 pounds of food each month, including over 32,000 meals to homebound adults. Our goal is to keep seniors and families in need healthy and to prevent hunger, homelessness, and hospitalization due to chronic illness.

Meals on Wheels of Santa Cruz County

Meals on Wheels food box
santa cruz meals on wheels team

Meals on Wheels (MOW) of Santa Cruz County staff and volunteers have stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide home-delivered meals (HDM) with love and comfort to the seniors in our community. When congregate sites closed due to the shelter in place orders, MOW quickly adapted to an all HDM delivery system, with congregate site managers becoming meal delivery drivers. Staff stepped up to become COVID-19 safety protocol experts, implementing temperature checks and safety protocols for all essential staff at the main kitchen. As the pandemic grew, MOW saw a need for additional meals for their senior clients and began packing and delivering a week's worth of breakfast foods to all HDM clients. At its height, MOW was delivering 700 HDM lunch and breakfast meals per week and continue to deliver 600 lunches and breakfasts per week currently. MOW of Santa Cruz has gone above and beyond for its senior clients; staff personally called each participant who met vaccination age requirements and helped them navigate the vaccination process. Their love and caring for each senior participant at MOW Santa Cruz is amazing, and all staff deserves a standing ovation!!

Dine At Home Sacramento Program

Image of pasta, salad, and fruit in to-go containers

To keep Sacramento County older adults safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, Agency on Aging\Area 4 (AAA4) partnered with the County of Sacramento to provide fresh meals to over 1000 people in the community. At least twice a week,15 local restaurants deliver freshly prepared meals to older adults who shelter-in-place. The Dine At Home Sacramento program participants receive two meals per day, either breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner, and they can select from meat, vegetarian or diabetic menu options. The program has served over 260,000 restaurant-quality meals and has helped to save over 80 jobs is Sacramento County. The program has become so popular that the AAA4 created the Dine at Home Yolo and Dine at Home Yuba Sutter programs. Other counties have also followed the same service model to increase their reach to older adults in their community.

City of San Marcos, PSA 23 - San Marcos Senior Activity Center

Older adult woman holding a box of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Prior to the pandemic, the San Marcos Senior Activity Center (SAC) served one hot meal a day at our Discovery Cafe. We served our last congregate meal Friday, March 13, 2020 and on the following Monday, we transitioned to a home delivered frozen meal program. We have three staff delivering over 300 meals per week across the southern California city of San Marcos. Due to the duration of the pandemic and the state mandate that seniors over 65 years of age continue to isolate, we decided to offer a fresh produce and various other items food box to all 60 participants in our home delivered meal program. We partnered with a local church that supplemented the box with pasta, dry beans, canned fruits, vegetables, soups, oatmeal and a healthy variety of snacks. In addition, the SAC purchased fresh greens for salads, carrots, celery, spinach, squash, tomatoes, berries, tuna, chicken, salmon, cottage cheese, cheese, deli meat and peanut butter. The boxes are distributed every other month to approximately 50 homebound seniors. Each box provides at least an additional 10 meals per month.

City and County of San Francisco Department of Disability and Aging Services, PSA 6 - Bayview Senior Services

Older adult woman standing next to a shelf full of fresh fruit and vegetables.

As an Area Agency on Aging, the San Francisco Department of Disability and Aging Services (DAS) provides funding to multiple community partners to offer congregate nutrition programs for older adults throughout the City. The congregate nutrition programs are intended to promote health and wellness, and assist individuals who are food insecure and at risk of poor nutritional health in gaining reliable access to nutritious foods and meals, and other nutrition related supportive services.

One of the community organizations that DAS partners with to provide congregate nutrition services is Bayview Senior Services. For over 40 years, Bayview Senior Services has provided programs designed to enhance and retain the health, quality of life, and culture of African American older adults in San Francisco. Bayview Senior Services offers an American-Southern style congregate lunch to older adults at 4 sites throughout San Francisco.

In response to the shelter-in-place orders put in place in March, 2020, Bayview Senior Services transitioned to take-out congregate meals to continue serving its participants. However, Bayview Senior Services saw an increased need for additional food resources. Based on consumer intake information, 68% of their congregate meal participants are low income and 40% are at high risk for poor nutritional health. To meet the increased need from their participants, Bayview Senior Services piloted a new program at two of their meal sites in conjunction with the San-Francisco Marin Food bank (SFMFB) and the San Francisco Produce Market. On a weekly basis, Bayview Senior Services receives 125 grocery bags from the SFMFB, and supplements the grocery bags with culturally appropriate produce tailored to their population. Examples of additional produce include cabbage, sweet potatoes, corn, bok choy, pineapple, and green beans. When older adults come to the site to pick up their congregate meal, they are given the supplemental grocery bag as well. The program’s success not only acknowledges the importance of providing cultural foods that support good health, but also limits the participant’s COVID-19 risk by providing meals and groceries at one location.