Requests for Senior Meals Up 30% in Santa Barbara County
Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County (CAC) operates a Senior Nutrition program that began in 1967 to provide a daily nutritious meal to older county residents, both home-delivered meals, and meals served at local community centers. Since the COVID-19 health crisis began, there has been a 30 percent increase in participation by seniors in need.
CAC is currently seeking meal-delivery drivers and on-site meal coordinators to accommodate the demand, and in anticipation of a growing need by at-risk seniors in the weeks to come. The biggest increases in senior meal enrollment overall are coming from the northern part of Santa Barbara County, but there are also larger numbers of seniors arriving daily to pick-up a healthy prepared lunch at the downtown Santa Barbara community sites, including Louise Lowry Davis Center and Presidio Springs Senior Living.
“Though many seniors who were enrolled in the community center meal program have switched to home delivery, and a majority of the new enrollees are requesting home delivery, we continue to serve to-go meals at most of the community sites as there is definitely a need for this,” said Patty C. Lopez, CAC Senior Meal Program Manager. CAC’s meal site coordinators have noticed an increase in homeless seniors picking up lunch at several community centers within the city of Santa Barbara.
Last year, CAC formed an innovative vendor relationship with Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) Food Service to produce healthy meals for local seniors. SBUSD accommodated the changing needs of the Senior Nutrition program at the same time as school closures and its own need to continue to feed food-insecure kids. Though normally hot meals are served to the seniors, in order to simplify processes during this crucial time, all age groups now receive a healthy box lunch. “We can’t thank SBUSD Food Service enough for its cooperation,” said Lopez. “I especially want to express my appreciation to the food service staff at Dos Pueblos High School. They don’t flinch as we request more and more meals to be prepared for our program participants.”
“Our Senior Nutrition program carefully observes social-distancing protocol and food server hygiene,” continued Lopez. “Our meal site coordinators wear face masks and gloves, and the meals are carefully pre-packaged and sealed altogether in clear plastic boxes. We also ask our seniors to keep six feet apart and to use the hand sanitizer that we provide on-site. Our home delivery drivers follow similar procedures.”
“As this crisis continues, we anticipate a continued increase in seniors needing prepared meals,” said Patricia Keelean, CAC CEO. “Consequently, we need more volunteers and donations. Nutrition is a vital part of maintaining a healthy immune system, and older people are most at risk for contracting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill.” Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens - Area Agency on Aging is a longtime supporter, as is local health plan CenCal Health among others.
Of the 13 original senior meal sites throughout the county, eight remain open for distribution of to-go meals, and five are currently closed.
North County Senior Meal Sites Current Status:
Dick Dewees Community Ctr, Lompoc – OPEN
Weitzel Center, Lompoc - OPEN to residents
Cypress Court Ctr, Lompoc - OPEN to residents
Guadalupe Senior Center - CLOSED
Elwin Mussell Senior Ctr, Santa Maria - CLOSED
Atkinson Rec Ctr, Santa Maria - CLOSED
Luis OASIS, Orcutt - CLOSED
South County Senior Meal Sites Current Status:
Villa Caridad, Santa Barbara - OPEN
Franklin Neighborhood Ctr, Santa Barbara - OPEN
Louise Lowry Davis Ctr, Santa Barbara - OPEN
Veterans Hall, Carpinteria - OPEN
Presidio Springs Senior Living - OPEN
Goleta Community Center - CLOSED
County residents can call CAC’s Senior Nutrition program hotline Monday through Friday between 8am and 4pm to inquire about the senior meal service. For those meal sites that are closed, seniors can arrange for home delivery. In South County, dial 805 964-8857 ext. #1140; in North County, dial 805 925-3010. County residents can also call the 2-1-1 helpline. Senior meal center addresses with maps can be found online at cacsb.org/senior. Individuals or companies wanting to volunteer or donate can contact Linda Rosso at 805 964-8857 ext #1105 or [email protected].
Jazmin Narez, CAC Senior Services Program Manager, shared a voice message from an unidentified caller in Orcutt to the Senior Nutrition program hotline. “Your program is just really awesome. Your drivers are so great. I am a caregiver for two ladies who live in a mobile home park. Those drivers really add cheer to them during this quarantine. So I just wanted to give you kudos for that.”
County residents are encouraged to follow CAC on social media to receive regular program updates. Community Action Commission is on Twitter @CACSanta Barbara, Instagram CACsantabarbara
and on Facebook @cachelps.
Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County creates opportunities for families and individuals to achieve stability through its 22 health and human service programs, including Senior Nutrition, Head Start, Weatherization and Energy Assistance, Family & Youth Services, and 2-1-1 Santa Barbara. CAC serves more than 10,000 people throughout the county each year. It also employs over 400 health, education and social service workers and is one of Santa Barbara County’s largest employers. Community Action Commission is a private non-profit agency that leverages support for Santa Barbara County residents through private funding as well as government contracts and grants. More information available at www.cacsb.com