Senior Meal Services - Keeping Our Seniors Healthy & Happy
With the rapidly aging population in America, it's no secret that senior meal services are in high demand. The question is - which is the best option for you or your loved ones?
A recent NPR article states that "according to some estimates, there are hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million seniors living in their own homes who are malnourished. In long-term care facilities, up to 50 percent may suffer from malnutrition. This leads to increased risk of illness, frailty, and falls."
When meal preparation becomes too difficult or you simply don't want to do it anymore, a host of health problems arise. Senior meal services have the potential to assist seniors in eating healthy, nutritious meals.
Why More And More Seniors Are Choosing A Meal Service
Here are just a few reason why people may use a meal delivery service:
- Nutrition - When food prep becomes difficult, many seniors turn to packaged foods, which often offer poor health benefits, or simply stop eating. Meal services can offer healthy meal alternatives.
- Safety - For those with certain chronic diseases it can be unsafe to work near a hot stove, or challenging to carry heavy groceries and stand for long periods to chop and cook fresh ingredients.
- Time - Many people are caregiving for a spouse, parent, or loved one. With all of the other responsibilities in life, meal preparation for those you love can suffer. In addition, others who have cooked meals for years simply enjoy the option to outsource the responsibility to someone else.
- Custom Diets - For a growing number of people in America, low-sodium, diabetic gluten-free meal options are necessary for health reasons. For others, tailoring around taste and sensitive digestion can make a huge difference.
- Affordability - Senior meal delivery services, because of economies of scale, can often offer a more affordable option to older adults who find themselves eating out at restaurants, buying carry out food, or purchasing frozen meals.
- Companionship - Not only is malnutrition a major issue with seniors but so is loneliness. Senior meal delivery services have the opportunity to deliver more than just food. They can also deliver a friendly visit that provides much-needed interaction.
- Delicious Food - This certainly will vary by service, but if you find the right company, you may just end up eating some of the best food you've ever had. Fresh and healthy ingredients make meals not only beautiful to look at, but also delicious to eat!
Exploring Different Meal Service Options
If you or a loved you know have decided that help with meals is right for you, it's time to explore the best options. There are several solutions to consider, some of which offer an alternative to delivered meals. Let's take a look at the different types meal services offered and explore the pros and cons of each.
I. Senior Centers
Senior centers have been around for a long time and offer an important role in our communities across the country. But, how are they for senior meals?
- Food usually is relatively affordable, sometimes even provided at no cost.
- Most communities have a senior center in their service area - be it at a church or another community center.
- For those who are mobile, senior centers offer a meeting place for visiting and companionship.
- Generally, food needs to be eaten at the center or picked up for carryout.
- Requires transportation to get to the center.
- Your menu is dictated for you. Generally, you don't have input in on the meals prepared and they cannot be customized for specific diets.
II. Mailed Meal Services
There are many types of mailed senior meal delivery services where food can be delivered right to your door, typically in a large cooler with ice packs. MagicKitchen.com and Silver Cuisine by BistroMD are a few examples of these services.
- Convenience, you don't have to leave your home to get your meals.
- Many services offered, "chef-prepared" and nutritious options.
- Ability to order online or over the phone and shipped to your residence.
- Some meal delivery options like Blue Apron still require preparation at home, which can be physically challenging.
- Meals must be stored for long periods, so they are made centrally and then frozen for shipping.
- Meals delivered through the mail offer no companionship component.
- Meals can't be customized for specific diets or food preferences.
- Generally, have to pay for shipping costs which can run up to $20/order.
III. In-Home Meal Delivery
Perhaps the most well known senior meal delivery service is Meals on Wheels. And for good reason as they provide an incredible benefit to many older adults in America. Meals on Wheels programs originated in the United Kingdom during WWII when many people lost their homes and were unable to cook their own meals. Meals on Wheels programs generally offer very affordable meals delivered right to your door.
- Meals are provided at no cost or at an affordable rate, as most are subsidized by private donors and the Older American's Act.
- A volunteer drops off the meal in-person.
- There are Meals on Wheels programs in just about every community in the US (over 5000).
- For most programs, meals cannot be customized for specific dietary concerns and/or food preferences.
- Due to increased demand, many local Meals on Wheels programs have a long wait list for their services.
- Many Meals on Wheels programs require that you meet certain qualifications to participate, such as "homebound" status or income below a set threshold.
IV. In-Home Personal Chef
A final type of meal program that more and more people (especially seniors) are turning to is an in-home personal chef. Normally with this option, a chef does all of the grocery shopping, brings fresh ingredients with, cooks the meal and cleans up in the home. Many believe having a personal chef is reserved for professional athletes and celebrities, but nowadays that isn't the case. Meals provided by a personal chef can be relatively affordable, with some able to offer prices similar to senior meal delivery services.
- Taste preferences and diet needs can all be customized for each individual.
- There is instant feedback to the chef.
- Fresh, healthy ingredients ensure a higher level of nutrition.
- Meals delivered right to your door.
- Ingredients are fresh and never frozen, adding to the flavor.
- Companionship and a friendly visit - something to look forward to all week.
- Chefs can offer feedback and updates on the client's status to off-site family members.
- Personal chef services can be more expensive than other meal delivery options in some cases.
- Requires that you have a working kitchen for the chef to prepare meals in.
- Can be difficult to find personal chef services in every community, as it's a relatively new industry.
Chefs For Seniors - A New Option for Seniors
What is Chefs For Seniors? We are a mission-driven company with a goal to keep older adults in their homes by supporting both nutritional and social needs.
We host a network of professional chefs who are all passionate about bringing fresh food into the lives of seniors at an affordable cost. Watch this 45-second overview video to get an idea of our in-home, personal chef meal service.
What Makes Chefs For Seniors Different?
Chefs For Seniors was founded in 2013 by father-son team Barrett and Nathan Allman. Barrett was a long-time executive chef and restaurant owner with over 25 years of experience in the food service industry. Since the company's inception, Chefs For Seniors' local chefs have prepared over 100,000 meals for seniors in 9 states, and is growing quickly through its nationwide franchise expansion.
There are several reasons that it makes sense to choose Chefs For Seniors over other meal delivery services:
- Fresh - The food is always fresh, never frozen! Our vetted and professional chefs do the grocery shopping for you and use their years of cooking experience to select the best food items to make delicious meals right in your own home.
- Nutritious - We make balanced meals with healthy ingredients that provide plenty of nutritious benefits. More importantly, since it is designed around what you like, our clients tend to eat all the food we make.
- Affordable - Our nationwide scale allows us to keep our meal subscriptions affordable. Because we aren't a one-man personal chef, we are able to pass on those savings to you. Our service costs $95-$129 per visit for ~12 servings of meals, which is much more affordable that most personal chef services.
- Custom - Because the chef gets to know you and your preferences, your meals will be customized to your tastes and your diet needs. Love cumin? Great, we'll add it in. Have low-sodium or gluten-free diet concerns? No problem. A key advantage with Chefs For Seniors is that our chefs get to know you at a very detailed level and can create personalized menus that you'll enjoy.
- Companionship - We believe in food is good for the body and a friendly visit is good for the soul. Our chefs love visiting our customers, and our seniors look forward to the visit every week. With Chefs For Seniors, you get good food and good company!