Elder Belle's Blessing: County Of Los Angeles
(Photo by Patrice Carlton and published at National Geographic.)
It occurred to me yesterday that I should balance out the Granny Bird Award which flips off those who act in a way detrimental to elders with an award for those who enhance the health and well-being of elders. Like the Granny Bird Award, Elder Belle's Blessing will appear from time to time, whenever I come across something which clearly deserves it. Please feel free to nominate recipients (with a link, if possible) in comments.
The inaugural blessing goes to the County of Los Angeles for its grants to local senior centers to provide low-cost meals to elders. I've been to one at the Arcadia Senior Center, and have been advised that Temple City also has such a program. I'm sure there are others all over the county.
The process is really quite simple. The meals are served weekdays (except holidays) and monthly menus are available. Elders call and make reservations ahead of time. Payment is made upon arrival: in the case of Arcadia the charge is $2 for elders and the disabled. I would assume that is standard.
The meals themselves are quite hearty. On the day I went with my neighbor, we had roast beef, a baked potato, a salad made from steamed zucchini and summer squash, corn, and tomatoes with a vinaigrette dressing, a dinner roll and butter, a small carton of low-fat milk, a small carton of apple juice, and jello. It was more food than I could consume.
A glance at the December menu shows comparable meals, but they are varied, including Mexican dishes, Asian dishes, and even a Polish dish. Desserts are simple, usually fruit, with occasional cookies, pudding, and ice cream. The goal is to provide the elders with at least one substantial and nutritious meal per day. For elders living alone or with just a spouse, cooking often feels like more trouble than it's worth, one of the real hazards facing us as we grow older and our families have left to go out on their own.
But that's not the only goal: it's an opportunity for elders to get out and socialize. The meals are eaten at large tables (8 to 12 at each), and the conversations are lively. Current affairs, sports, fishing lures, movies/television programs: those all got hashed out at my table.
This is a wonderful program, one that I intend to avail myself of frequently. I just hope the County can keep it running. Like all governments at all levels, the county budget is strained. If I dug into it further (and I might), I would imagine I'd find that the County has a state grant dependent on a federal grant. And this is the kind of program which would be an easy target for the dolts in Congress. We need to keep an eye on that.
At any rate, well done, County of Los Angeles.