Jeff Davis Council on Aging partners with Second Harvest Food Bank to ensure meals for seniors

The Jeff Davis Parish Council on Aging is partnering with the Second Harvest Food Bank to ensure area senior citizens have access to at least one healthy meal a day.

Second Harvest Food Bank Chief Regional Officer Paul Scelfo said the partnership will allow them to provide 110 meals a day, five days a week for the parish’s Meals on Wheels program. Additional meals are delivered off-site to homebound residents.

“A month ago we became a partner with the Jeff Davis Council on Aging, with that we got the opportunity to start providing the food for the Meals on Wheels program,” Scelfo said. “One of our objectives is to make sure anybody in Jeff Davis Parish that can qualify for the Meals on Wheels program has a hot, healthy, tasty, nutritious meal to eat.”

Similar programs are also available in Calcasieu and Jefferson parishes, with more parishes expected to be added soon, Scelfo said.

On Tuesday members of the Second Harvest Food Bank held a Coffee and Conversation gathering with area senior citizens to receive feedback on the first month of service.

“We are not trying to dictate what they eat,” Scelfo said. “We are just trying to work as a partner to put food on the menu that meets the daily nutritional guidelines, while providing them with the foods they like.”

The meals typically consist of one meat, two vegetables, bread, fruit, dessert and milk,

Second Harvest Food Bank Executive Chef Matthew Taylor knows the meals he prepares not only has to taste good, but be nutritious.

“My thought process is what would I want my grandmother or feed my own family,” Taylor said. “And with that thought process I want them to be able to enjoy a meal. I try to bring back childhood memories of what they ate growing up with their families.”

Taylor prepares 3,000 meals for Second Harvest food programs.

Self said research has shown that 90 percent of people who receive a Meals on Wheels meal say it improves their quality of life. Ninety-three percent say it allows them to stay in their home a little bit longer because they have daily social contact and meal coming in, he said.

Second Harvest is also working to help prepare the households for hurricanes and other situations which may limit their ability to get meals.

“Although they are getting one meal from us a day, we are looking at what we can add to their pantry so that they can have a fuller pantry in their homes,” he said.

Virgilian Bergeron, 75, of Jennings has been coming to the Council on Aging for nearly five years. Bergeron mostly comes for the fellowship, but enjoys the meals.

“I probably wouldn’t ever get out of the house,” Bergeron laughed. “I’d be watching TV and sleeping. The food and the company is much better.”

Karllis Davis, 66, of Jennings eats his lunch everyday with his friends at the Jeff Davis Council on Aging.

On Tuesday, Davis enjoyed spaghetti and meat sauce.

“It’s all about the friendships and experiences,” Davis said. “Before I didn’t have a lot of people around or someone to talk to.”

As for the meals, Davis said they provide him with cooked food he likely would not make at home.

The lunch time gathering is the norm for Indira Francis, 70, of Jennings and other senior citizens like her who gather to eat a hot meal for lunch, visit, then go home.

“I cook at home, when I feel like it, but it’s better when someone cooks,” Francis said. “This motivated me and I get to visit with friends.”

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