Many senior adults have difficulty preparing nutritious meals for themselves. Some are unable to shop and cook due to physical challenges. Others are unable to afford the cost. Fortunately, there are many services available in our area to help seniors in need.
For those who are not home-bound, the United Way “First Call For Help” hotline has a listing of congregate meal programs, soup kitchens, and food pantries where seniors can go to get a hot meal at a reduced cost. They also have a listing of holiday meal locations, so that seniors do not have to eat their holiday meal alone. Hotline staff members search by zip code to find the closest and most convenient location for the senior. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some of these programs also have transportation services and social activities available, to help ease loneliness and isolation for those who live alone.
For home-bound seniors, First Call For Help also provides a list of several meal delivery services. Meals on Wheels is a national organization with community-based senior nutrition programs throughout the Cleveland area. Volunteers deliver one hot and one cold meal at a cost of $6.25 per day. The quantities are generous, and often provide enough leftovers for another meal or snack. The volunteers check on the senior when they deliver the food to make sure they are doing well, and they alert the family if they suspect a problem. The Meals on Wheels program is not government-funded, and they rely on payment and donations in order to operate.
The Golden Age Centers (GAC) operates a non-profit program called Home Delivered Meals that also delivers meals to seniors throughout the Cleveland area. Social workers conduct nutrition and risk assessments to determine how many meals per week the senior qualifies for. Government funding and foundation grants allow GAC to ask for a donation of $1 per meal. GAC also operates a transportation service that picks seniors up at home and brings them to a congregate meal location to dine and socialize with other seniors.
Jewish Family Service Association also operates a program called Home Delivered Meals that provides kosher meals to seniors in the eastern suburbs. Volunteers deliver two fully-cooked meals on Tuesdays and three meals on Thursdays. The cost is $8.91 per meal, with lower cost subsidies available in certain neighborhoods. Payment is also accepted through PASSPORT and Title 3. All meals are low-sodium and diabetic-friendly, and they are able to accommodate food allergies and dietary restrictions.
For those needing financial assistance to buy food, the Cuyahoga County Department of Employment and Family Services operates the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly referred to as “food stamps”. Qualifying participants receive either a cash payment or a benefit card which can be used at over 900 stores in Cuyahoga County. Eligibility depends on income level and the number of people in the household.
Costs, benefits, and qualification requirements for all of these programs vary, and some have waiting periods for receiving benefits. It is best to call ahead of time, before the need for assistance becomes urgent or life-threatening.
Contact the organizations here:
Beachwood Meals on Wheels: 216-991-6376
Cleveland Heights Meals on Wheels: 216-691-7377
Golden Age Centers: 216-231-6500
Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program: 216-987-8183