Coronavirus Kindness: Food program, volunteers produce 5,000 meals per day for San Mateo seniors in need

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- With seniors considered at-risk for COVID-19, a major void resulted when lunch programs had to be canceled that were designed to meet their nutritional and social needs.

As a result, tens of thousands of seniors were cut off from daily lunch programs.

For many, it was their only hot meal of the day.

In a matter of days, MoonChef, a commercial food operator, and the social service agency Self-Help for the Elderly created a frozen food program to deliver a week's worth of complete meals to seniors at home.
"They can just pop it in the microwave actually," says Daisy Li, the owner of MoonChef. "It's five minutes to be very hot up to 155 degrees."

The Daly City facility produces 5,000 frozen meals per day.

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"I think it's all like everybody comes together, and it becomes a whole group of family that works together and try to do good," she said.

About 30 volunteers fan out to make the contact-less deliveries.

Seventy-thousand meals have been provided since mid-March.

"I have problems walking, and they said they would deliver food to me," said Anna Chan, a meal recipient in San Mateo. "I'm very grateful about that."

This massive operation costs more but is being covered by a combination of county funding and donations from Self-Help.

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"The actual food cost per meal has increased by 30 percent, so we need to do what we need to do in order to make sure that seniors are fed well," said Vicky Wong, a Self-Help board member.

Volunteers say their reward is helping seniors.

"It brings me a lot of satisfaction knowing that I can bring a little bit of help to them, especially during this time when it's very difficult to get out," said delivery volunteer Lena Yin.

Other volunteers call the seniors to check on their wellness and to ask if they need additional assistance.

Self-Help says they have capacity to deliver more meals for those in need. They also are seeking more delivery volunteers.

For more information, call the Self-Help San Mateo Center at 650-342-0822.
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