If you have ever lived with a senior, you know that having good meals (and having their meals on time!) is usually pretty important business in their book. However, shopping for groceries and cooking can be one of the biggest challenges for seniors. Many elderly Americans find themselves either unable to shop or cook because of physical limitations, or simply have a lack of knowledge about how to make healthy meals because their spouse or partner has passed.
This week, NPR correspondent Ina Jaffe wrote about a new company called Chefs for Seniors, co-founded by 21 year old Nathan Allman and his father Barrett Allman. Nathan’s grandmother had entered an assisted living facility when she could no longer cook for herself in her own home. However, she did not feel at home there, and her family thought that if they could overcome her inability to prepare her own meals, she may have been able to continue living at home with a greater degree of independence.
Nathan’s father had been a chef for 22 years. Together, Nathan and Barrett started a business in their home state of Wisconsin that now has 50 to 60 senior clients and employs 10 chefs. They are able to provide affordable (clients pay an average of $45 to $75 a week) and healthy meals to seniors in their own home. The chefs at Chefs for Seniors come in once a week and prepare a week’s worth of meals for their clients. The process starts only after a personal consultation with each client, to make sure that the chefs prepare meals that suit the seniors likes and dislikes, while also providing balanced and healthy food options. The chefs also provide a friendly face and a bit of conversation for their clients each week.
Jaffe cites studies that show that a great number of seniors in America are malnourished. There are many services that bring meals to seniors from outside kitchens, but few that actually take the time to consult with a client about their individual wants and needs and prepare the meals in their own home, tailored to their specifications. Hopefully more services like this one will become available in other parts of the US. There is definitely a need for a senior-specific service like this one to bring a more personal experience to seniors who wish to remain at home despite the fact that they can no longer cook for themselves.