CenCal Health Press Release
By Hannah Rael
Pictured: George, 90, delivering a hot lunch from the Senior Nutrition Program of San Luis Obispo County to Dolores, also 90. George has been delivering meals since 1982. Photo courtesy of the Senior Nutrition Program of San Luis Obispo County.
Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, Calif., Feb. 16, 2016 – CenCal Health is partnering with the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County (CAC) and the Senior Nutrition Program of San Luis Obispo County to support their meal delivery services for seniors.
On Jan. 27, CenCal Health entered into partnerships with these two local organizations that will enable CAC to continue to serve 150,000 meals to more than 1,400 seniors and will enable the Senior Nutrition Program of SLO County to provide 36,500 meals to 100 seniors in 2016.
“These meals serve as a lifeline for seniors, many of whom are forced to pick between medical care and food,” said Fran Forman, Executive Director of CAC. “We’re honored to work together with CenCal Health to ensure local seniors get the proper nutrition they need to stay healthy.”
In Santa Barbara County 34.3 percent of seniors live below the Elder Index, a measure of poverty devised by gerontological experts using widely accepted and credible national and state data sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide an evidence-based indicator of the actual basic costs faced by older adults.
Senior citizen hunger rates have risen for low-income seniors living on the Central Coast, causing nutrition and hunger to become the number one issue for local seniors. According to “Needs of an Aging Community” published in 2013 by the Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens, 37 percent of low-income seniors, 21 percent of seniors living alone, and 27 percent of seniors with physical impairments ranked food/meals as their number one need.
Rising hunger rates among seniors pose significant public health consequences as persistent hunger and malnutrition can lead to chronic diseases, expensive hospitalization, and indefinite nursing home residence.
“As a growing segment of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County’s population, it’s critical that our community empowers seniors to maintain their health and live independently for as long as possible,” said Bob Freeman, CEO of CenCal Health. “This collaboration represents the beginning of what we hope is a long-term partnership between CenCal Health, CAC and the Senior Nutrition Program of SLO County, valuable community-based organizations serving the Central Coast’s vulnerable seniors.”
The Community Action Commission serves approximately 150,000 meals to 700 homebound seniors and 700 seniors at centers annually. The organization also operates 11 Healthy Table centers in Santa Barbara, which provide food, friendship, and fun. CAC provides seniors in need with seven nutritious meals a week and prepares their lunches from scratch using local fresh produce. Meals are planned by a local dietician to optimize nutrition for senior health.
The Senior Nutrition Program of San Luis Obispo County prepares approximately 600 meals five days a week for homebound delivery or to be served in one of 10 dining room sites from Paso Robles to Nipomo. In addition to serving a free, hot and nutritious meal, volunteers personally visit homebound clients, offering social contact as well as emergency assistance when necessary.
“These meals enhance health, reduce isolation and increase the socialization of our seniors,” said Elias Nimeh, Executive Director of the Senior Nutrition Program of SLO County. “We commend CenCal Health for acknowledging the importance of nutrition in health for a population that faces a number of obstacles that come with poor nutrition.”
The partnership with CAC and the Senior Nutrition Program launches as CenCal Health is in the process of developing a special needs program that would allow it to provide the full spectrum of health care benefits to low-income seniors that qualify for both Medicare and Medi-Cal. The program is slated to launch in 2018.
For members of the community interested in joining CenCal Health in supporting these two organizations, Community Action Commission’s Champions Dinner will be held June 2, 2016 at Hotel Corque in Solvang. More info on how you can donate to their cause and get involved can be found on their website at www.cacsb.com The Senior Nutrition Program’s annual fundraiser “Jeans & Jewels” will be held May 21, 2016 at The Cliffs in Pismo Beach. More information may be found on their website at www.snpslo.org or by calling (805) 541-3312.