County Expands Senior Nutrition Program, Funds "A Human Connection" via Friends from Meals on Wheels

March 29, 2016


SAN JOSE – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved funding for a new program that will bring socialization and personal care to isolated seniors as part of Meals on Wheels.

“Too many of the seniors that use Meals on Wheels are homebound, and at risk of isolation,” said Simitian. “If we can bring them food, care, and some friendly conversation as well, it really can make a difference in their daily lives.”

At the February 25th meeting of the County Finance and Government Operations Committee, County Supervisor Joe Simitian asked that the County Social Services Agency (SSA) explore options to bring socialization and other services (including exercise and routine chores) to homebound seniors.

The Board has now approved an agreement with the organization The Health Trust to implement a “Friends from Meals on Wheels” (FMOW) program, providing socialization and more personal care for the County’s neediest seniors. Simitian said he is, “gratified that County staff has responded with a program that provides for a real connection with seniors who are isolated and alone.”

Friends from Meals on Wheels provides services including home-visits, telephone calls, and individualized exercise classes to Santa Clara County’s at-risk, homebound, and isolated seniors.

Seniors that use Meals on Wheels are often the most frail and isolated seniors in the community; they also tend to have chronic health conditions and are at a higher risk of institutionalization than other seniors.  Studies have shown that increased socialization decreases stress, increases self-esteem, and reduces issues with mental health.

“For some folks, these programs can be a literal lifesaver,” said Simitian. “Having healthy food on the table and a friendly face at the door can help local seniors stay in their homes as healthy, active, and happy residents.”

Starting in Fiscal Year 2016/2017, the Friends from Meals on Wheels program will be funded fully at $150,000 annually.  The County will use $37,500 to fund the program through June of this fiscal year.

Over the past few years demand for senior nutrition programs has increased, and will continue to rise. To ensure that seniors continue to receive the care and support they need, the Board of Supervisors also approved a $165,000 increase to the Meals on Wheels contract.


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