Serving more than Healthy Meals to Seniors

September 25, 2013

James is a new senior resident at one of downtown San Diego’s single room occupancy hotels. James is new in San Diego and has no family or friends nearby. The small room is equipped with a twin bed and a tiny sink; bathrooms are shared with other hotel residents. Paying for the hotel room to avoid living on the streets is about all that James can afford.

James found out about Senior Community Centers home delivered meals program through other hotel residents and called to sign up as well. Kimberly, one of our home delivered meals drivers, came by the next day with a hot and nutritious lunch as well as breakfast for the next day. On Fridays, our drivers deliver breakfast and lunch for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, James had to decline the meals because he could not store or heat up the food.

Letting one of our clients go hungry for an entire weekend – and many other weekends to follow – is not an option.  Senior Community Centers’ Food Service Director took extra ordinary measures and discovered a small fridge and a microwave in working condition in our limited storage space.

James was very grateful and surprised when Kimberly delivered a fridge and microwave along with fresh meals during her next visit! We sure made his day and are excited to know that James has access to healthy food seven days a week.

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Find out more about our Home Delivered Meals Program at www.servingseniors.org.


Picture of the Month: City Council President Todd Gloria Serves Lunch

August 30, 2013

Todd Gloria

San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria and his team served lunch at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center this month. While seniors always feel honored to greet and chat with Mr. Gloria, Violet was especially excited about her special birthday experience!

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Want to serve lunch and put big smiles on our seniors’ faces? Visit www.servingseniors.org and find out How to Help!


KPBS Follow-Up Interviews on Sequestration

August 26, 2013

Last week KPBS came by the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center to follow-up on the effect that federal across-the-board budget cuts have on low-income seniors in San Diego County.

Proposed cuts to Senior Community Centers’ Meals Program have increased to $233,000 since sequestration first became a reality in March of this year. At a cost of $2.50 per meal, these cuts leave 93,200 meals unfunded. While the gridlock in Washington to figure out the final budget is getting dangerous, Senior Community Centers is committed to serve high quality food and not turn any hungry seniors away.

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Listen to the interview and find out what seniors have to say here:

August 22, 2013 – KPBS Follow-Up Interview on Sequestration


Cultural Competency: A Closer Look at San Diego’s Asian American Senior Population

July 12, 2013

The number of Asian seniors who benefit from our culturally competent services is growing. I am happy to announce that as of July 1, our Mandarin-speaking supportive services case manager Maggie will be available to serve our seniors full-time from Monday through Friday.

25% of the seniors we support at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center are Asian and of that, 14% are Chinese.

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(At Senior Community Centers’ Chinese New Year Celebration)

Working with culturally diverse seniors is very rewarding and can be challenging at the same time, especially when it comes to something as important as addressing healthcare needs that could prevent seniors from living healthy and independent lives.

According a recent cultural competency workshop by Yawen Li, PhD, Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work at San Diego State University, Asian health beliefs attribute illness to karma or curses. Combined with strong superstitions and putting a lot of power into alternative healing methods, Western medicine may be the very last resort to get help. While respecting the beliefs of Asian cultures, our support services team is ready help in a culturally competent way.

Since inception of the Chinese Outreach Program in 2011, our Mandarin-speaking case manager has conducted over 1,000 visits helping nearly 200 clients. The resolution rate for medical issues is over 90%. 

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(Maggie and a senior at the Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center)

Our success rate is in part due to our collaborative partnerships, ongoing cultural competency training and dedicated staff members like Maggie. The following list shows ways to bridge some of the cultural differences between Asian American traditions and Western habits:

  • Be aware of differences among Asian American ethnicities
  • Avoid using stereotypes as portrayed in US media
  • Be aware of non-verbal cues as Asian Americans can be very sensitive to non-verbal communication (lack of eye contact implies not being respectful or not paying attention)
  • Use a title instead of calling by direct name
  • Work closely with family members that were identified by the senior as  the representative of the family
  • Be considerate of the high respect for authority figures within extended family and that the behavior or achievements of one person reflects on the entire family
  • Be aware that mental illness is seen as having “a bad gene” and is highly stigmatized
  • Explain problems and treatment alternatives clearly and be ready to have recommendations
  • Make sure the senior and family members understand what you are trying to communicate; nodding heads may just signify paying respect rather than understanding
  • Western cultures focus on self-expression through language while eastern cultures focus on affect and non-verbal expression
  • Language may not accommodate all that the individual thinks and feels

We are happy to have Maggie on our team full-time to help bridge some of the cultural differences to help seniors in need live a healthy and independent life. Find out here how you can support the Chinese Outreach and Case Management Program.


Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) Sequesters Own Paychecks for Senior Community Centers

May 7, 2013

Seniors, staff and Senior Community Centers board members are applauding Congressman Scott Peters‘ leadership for speaking up against sequestration.

IMG_1446(Seniors at the Potiker Family Senior Residence located in the 52nd District thank Congressman Scott Peters!)

During Rep. Peters’ recent visit at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center, I shared the impact that sequestration has on the seniors we serve. Not only does Congressman Scott Peters fight to protect senior nutrition programs, he just set a powerful example by applying the 8% across-the-board cut to his own Congressional paycheck and donating the difference to Senior Community Centers! Thank you for your support, Congressman Scott Peters!

Please read the full press release below:

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Rep. Peters ‘Sequesters’ His Own Pay; 

Donates it to Feed Seniors In Need

“The rules Congress imposes on others should apply to us too” – Congressman Peters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) applied the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration to his own paycheck, stating that “any rules Congress imposes on federal employees and all Americans ought to apply to us, too.” He will take eight percent of his monthly salary, which equates to about $1,300 per month, and donate it to Senior Community Centers of San Diego to supplement meals for at-risk seniors. The Senior Community Centers has had to cut services to seniors, many of whom are veterans, due to funding losses from the sequester.

“While the idea for the sequester predates my time in Congress, we should all agree that it is terrible policy; none of us would run our business or household budget this way, and it is no way to run a country,” Congressman Peters said.  “In March I introduced a motion to end the sequester and I will continue to look for opportunities to fix it.”

(Video: Congressman Peters’ motion to end the sequester can be seen here)

“Federal employees, military contractors, and thousands of small businesses and individuals who contract with the federal government are being forced to take indiscriminate pay cuts.  Members of Congress should share the impact of these cuts as well.”

“Senior Community Centers has lost nearly $60,000 for our senior meal program due to sequestration. That equates to about 21,000 fewer meals we are able to provide this year,” said Paul Downey, CEO and President.

“Nearly ninety-five percent of the seniors we serve are at or below the poverty line, so these meals make a big difference to their health and their lives. We are grateful to Congressman Peters for his long-time interest and support of what we do, and very much appreciate his leadership and his willingness to do his part to help us help the needy seniors we serve,” he said.

“In San Diego there are more than 30,000 people taking furlough days, and countless other programs are reducing services,” Peters said. “It is my hope that Washington can finally have an adult discussion about our nation’s priorities and the budgeting process.

“Senior Community Centers in San Diego provide life line resources for some of my most vulnerable constituents: low-income seniors, many of whom are below the poverty line, who might not otherwise get the food and care they need.  Sequestration has hit these centers extremely hard, as it has many other organizations in our region.  By donating the sequestered amount of my own pay, at least we can provide some relief from these cuts to area seniors and elderly veterans.”

Senior Community Centers of San Diego noted the impact that the donation would have on their facility: “At Senior Community Centers our cost per meal is $2.65. With $1000, we could provide 377 more nutritious meals to seniors. This investment in meals keeps our seniors well, and reduces the need for more costly healthcare interventions. In San Diego, an emergency room visit begins at $765, while one day in the hospital costs $4,373. Additionally, meals provide social engagement, and educational and wellness opportunities. 71% of older adults who participate in the nutrition program at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center participate in other activities or seek assistance with clinical services.”

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Congressman Scott Peters serves the 52nd District of California which covers much of central San Diego County including large portions of the City of San Diego, Poway, & Coronado.  He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology.  The Congressman is a former City Council President and Port Commissioner.



Long-term Impact of Cutting Senior Nutrition Program Funding

March 14, 2013

The Administration estimates that as many as 4 million meals to older adults could be eliminated as a result of the sequester.  In San Diego County, over 100,000 meals will be cut and Senior Community Centers will loose funding for 32,000 meals.

These cuts are particularly devastating at a time when the need and demand for senior nutrition programs is growing at an unprecedented pace.  Local organizations who provide nutrition for seniors will soon be forced to take one or more of the following actions:

  • Eliminate or reduce meals;
  • Eliminate or reduce staff who serve older adults;
  • Reduce the quality of the meal; and/or
  • Reduce the number of delivery days.

These actions will cause enormous hardship to many older adults who need good nutrition to remain healthier, more independent and out of long-term care facilities.

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 A Senior Community Centers home-delivered meals driver is bringing lunch to one of our clients. With sequestration going forward, services like these may be drastically reduced nationwide.

Senior nutrition programs serve a distinct group of older adults who are often more isolated and in the greatest economic or social need.  Frequently, the meal that is provided is their only guaranteed source of nutrition each day.The long-term impact of cutting senior nutrition programs could be:

  • Older adults will end up in hospitals and or nursing homes due to health issues related to the failure to maintain a proper diet.
  • Hospital stays will add significant costs to Medicare and Medicaid at a time when efforts are being made to reduce these costs.

Join me in urging Congress to exempt senior nutrition programs from sequestration! We should be investing in these valuable nutrition programs as a means to avoid increasing federal expenditures, not cutting back on them when they are needed most.

Find all the tools you need for contacting your representatives here!


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