PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE

Senior Friendship Centers is working to identify seniors aged 60+ in Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte and Lee Counties who may be interested in receiving home-delivered meals.

Nutrition is a year-round program at Senior Friendship Centers that consists of home-delivered meals and congregate dining centers, where seniors gather to share a meal and friendship. In 2019, Senior Friendship Centers served or delivered almost 291,000 meals. Due to COVID-19, Senior Friendship Centers has ramped up its ability to deliver meals and is accepting new clients.

“By next week we will be serving around 12,000 meals per week, with the capacity to do many more,” said Debra Bragg, Nutrition Services director at Senior Friendship Centers. “Someone who wants to receive meals must be 60 or older and enrolled in the Older Americans Act, which we can help with. The meals we serve meet daily nutritional guidelines for seniors and are reviewed by a registered dietician.”

The meals are delivered by a contracted food vendor once a week. Each client receives seven frozen or shelf-stable meals for the week, and during the pandemic can request as many as 14. A menu is available and consists of items such as grilled chicken, lasagna, Asian glazed chicken, Tuscan pork, Chicken Verona, and more.

“These meals can be a lifeline for seniors who are homebound and unable to get supplies or cook,” Bragg said. “Because of this situation, people are scared to leave their homes to get even basic supplies. If anyone feels food insecure or feels scared to go to the store, they should call us. We can help them get nutritious meals.”

In Florida, the Area Agency on Aging is the administrative organization that distributes federal funding for senior meals programs. The recent $3 trillion stimulus bill gave $18 million to senior meal programs in Florida, with $1.3 million going to the service area that includes Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Glades and Hendry Counties. Senior Friendship Centers is the lead organization that delivers meals in this service area.

Because of COVID-19, Senior Friendship Centers’ 18 dining centers are temporarily closed, along with the medical and dental clinics, activity centers, and adult day services/caregiving resource centers. In addition to home-delivered meals, Senior Friendship Centers is offering telephone reassurance calls, virtual activities and support groups, telehealth, and is collecting essential supplies for homebound seniors who need them.

Anyone who is interested in receiving meals should call the Home Delivered Meals Hotline at:
(941) 556-3208 in Sarasota County
(941) 255-0723 in DeSoto/Charlotte Counties
(239) 236-8684 in Lee County

Senior Friendship Centers’ mission is to promote health, dignity and quality of life throughout the journey of aging. Since 1973 the organization has served people 50 and older in Sarasota, Charlotte, DeSoto, and Lee Counties with programs and services including medical and dental clinics, activity centers, lifelong learning, meals in their centers and delivered to the homebound, caregiver support, adult day services, supportive aging services, and volunteer opportunities. More than 500 volunteers give time valued more than $2 million annually.