Low-cost nutritious meals are in short supply for many seniors throughout central Indiana. The Hunger in America 2010 national survey reported that requests from seniors for emergency food are at an all time high. More than half of American seniors report that they have difficulty paying for critical items such as food, gas and medicine. Seniors on the near-south side of Indianapolis are no exception to this trend, and actually have a higher than average proportion of low-income senior households. Through the Dynki Deli, Concord Neighborhood Center provides meals to seniors, and serves those meals an emphasis on health and individual choice.
Senior Hunger Solutions
|Grilled cheese sandwich with broccoli salad, one of many lunch options that make up the Dynki Deli menu.|
For many low-income seniors throughout central Indiana, the main meal of the day comes from a congregant meal service – where seniors eat the same entrée at a set time. Most congregant meal services look a lot like a traditional school cafeteria, where diners all eat together at large tables. Congregant meals are designed to be healthy and encourage social interaction. But an important ingredient’s often missing: the choice to order a meal that suits your tastes and needs.
But on the near south side of Indianapolis, Concord Neighborhood Center serves meals that do more than meet the health needs of seniors. Diners at the Dynki Deli order their reduced-cost meals based on personal preference and off a menu. With a senior population that is nearly 90 percent low-income, the Dynki Deli’s menu is offered at prices that are well below the market rate. The menu is composed of homey but healthy favorites including deli sandwiches, chicken noodle casserole and broccoli salad. The Central Indiana Senior Fund, a CICF fund, has provided support for the organization’s range of senior services, including the Dynki Deli’s reduced-cost meals.
“Our seniors wanted different meals and they wanted choices This wasn’t rocket science, it just unfolded,” say Niki Girls, Executive Director of Concord Neighborhood Center. “And, actually, it was my mother, who did not like to be regulated, who said, ‘Give them some home-cooked meals.’ So we did.”
If You Feed Them, They Will Come
The Dynki Deli serves as an entrée for seniors into Concord’s wider range of services. Concord provides seniors with daily activities, like games and exercise, but the organization also has more unusual offerings. The group’s annual Senior Prom attracts over 80 seniors, who dress up and dance throughout the event.
“Seniors are a lot like kids – they have a wide range of interests and ages,” says Niki Girls. “You have to know your audience and tailor your programs to what those different groups really want.”
Concord’s staff believes that providing a range of options – of activities and at mealtime – is key to attracting seniors to the center. In addition to utilizing Concord’s services, many seniors have also become regular volunteers, helping with the center’s computers and even providing a science workshop to youth in Concord’s afterschool program.
Read more on senior hunger in central Indiana.
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