Description of the overall organization
ElderHelp provides personalized services and information that help seniors remain independent and live with dignity in their own homes. Because the great majority of their clients (96%) lack the financial resources to remain independent without help, ElderHelp services carry no fee, and are instead donation-based.
Description of Project/Program
ElderHelp seeks funding to support their Customized Nutrition Services for Seniors program. ElderHelp has established a robust senior nutrition program to facilitate home deliveries of shelf-stable and fresh groceries and supplies. Unlike traditional food pantries, the service customizes food offerings based on preferences and dietary needs and provides nutrition-education services for clients and volunteers. The average age of clients is 80 and most are living with multiple chronic health problems or disabilities.
Description of how the Impact Giving grant funds will be used:
This project will serve an anticipated 464 clients. This includes 200 seniors with bi-weekly food deliveries and an additional 264 clients living in low-income senior housing. Funds awarded will be distributed as follows: food and supplies 65%, nutrition education 15%, and staff time for consultations and referrals 20%.
High Impact & Life Transforming
Providing nutritious food to low-income seniors affects their entire well-being and is therefore transformative! Seniors who are food insecure represent 50% of older adults who are hospitalized, are 40% more likely to have congestive heart failure, and have 2.3 times the risk of suffering from depression, which results in increased health care needs.
Moreover, this Nutrition Program serves as an entry point to address other negative influencers in their clients’ lives. With volunteers and staff identifying other factors detrimental to their well-being, they have an uncommon capacity to be responsive to client needs and create sustainable, permanent change in their lives.
Education is central within this nutrition service. Staff and volunteers complete food-handling courses and a trauma-informed nutrition program. Clients can attend virtual cooking classes and webinars with guest speakers where they learn about practical food handling tips.
ElderHelp has provided enduring support for seniors for nearly 50 years through a mixture of grant, contract, and individual and corporate funding. Specific to Nutrition Services, the evidence of senior food insecurity is increasing, and coupled with the dramatic increase in the number of seniors advancing to elderhood, they anticipate broader interest and funding sources will follow.
Poverty and food insecurity cannot be solved without robust community building and cooperation. ElderHelp works across multiple collaborations to address issues that impact not just seniors, but their families as well. They continually expand their knowledge of community resources for seniors so that those who call for help are provided options beyond ElderHelp. Some of their collaborative partners include the San Diego Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Leah’s Pantry, and UCSD Center for Community Health.
Moreover, in an effort to build a coordinated community, they recently completed an assessment of all senior food pantry programs in San Diego County. This was done to ensure they are enhancing existing services and to provide referrals for programs that may be a better fit.
This program is innovative as it goes beyond merely providing food to food insecure seniors but uses this service to identify and address other vulnerabilities with the clients. For instance, they have partnered with the Alzheimer’s Associations to better identify early signs of dementia within the client community and provide referrals as needed.
Moreover, ElderHelp leverages their army of 450 volunteers to not only deliver food but to act as a critical liaison to ensure no senior need goes unmet, especially in combatting isolation. Once volunteers are vetted and trained, they are matched with seniors based on circumstances and compatible interests. In-home services delivered by volunteers can include food delivery, limited grocery shopping, home safety inspections, and minor home repairs to reduce falls and injury.
The key professional running this project holds a Doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership. Her dissertation was focused on senior nutrition programs as a cost savings to Medicare. She has in place a system of on-going assessment to ensure processes are effective, efficient, and impactful.
Organization’s Mission Statement
Our mission is to provide personalized services and information that help seniors live independently and age with dignity in their own homes.
Link to the website: https://elderhelpers.org/