September 21, 2015

Senior Nutrition at Plymouth Apartments

Author: Agency Relations & Programs Team

Plymouth Plate PicChef Terah recently led a class for seniors at the Plymouth Apartments in Winter Park. They discussed senior health and nutrition, in addition to a cooking demonstration featuring black eyed pea salad.

The residents of this active independent living facility were quite interested in nutrition. They had many questions for Chef Terah, which made for a very engaging class. We took a few moments to ask Ivonne Jimenez, Community Assistant at the Plymouth, a few questions about the clients she serves.

 Why do you feel nutrition is important for the population you serve?

 Ivonne: Nutrition is very important for everyone, especially seniors. One in ten seniors in America is at risk of experiencing hunger at any time during any given month. The senior hunger problem is only getting worse as social programs and services experience budget cuts. Hunger at any age is a serious concern, but for seniors, a lack of nutritious food can have a considerable impact on health and independence. Seniors at risk of being hungry, are less likely to be in excellent or very good health, and more likely to be diabetic, suffer from depression, and other illnesses related to poor nutrition.

As you might expect, poverty is one big reason why seniors go hungry. But money is only part of the problem. As we age, tasks like grocery shopping and cooking meals can become increasingly difficult. This can create a dangerous downward spiral of poor health and decreased independence.

Your residents were very receptive to learning about cooking and nutrition. How do you engage residents to participate in nutrition education?

Ivonne: I engage the residents to participate in events by promoting the event with good and attractive publicity, e.g. flyers, and posting them on bulletin boards. I also like to distribute friendly reminders to all the apartments a couple of days before the event. I go to the resident’s association meetings and make announcements of what’s coming up and clarify any questions the residents may have. I am available on a daily basis and engage in conversations with residents about what kind of things they enjoy and what fun activities they would like us to bring to the community.

Plymouth Plate Pic 2

Could you describe a distribution day at your agency?

Ivonne: We distribute food from Second Harvest twice a month, serving about 163 residents monthly. It is the event of the week! A volunteer resident and I go to pick up the food at 8:00 am at Second Harvest. We transport the food to the Plymouth where I have my group of volunteer residents (about 3 guys) already waiting. Their job is to take the food off the truck up to the Community Pantry on the 5th floor. On the 5th floor in the community pantry, I have another group of volunteers (2 or 3 ladies) whose job is to help me take the food out from the boxes and organize it in the pantry by food categories.

While all this is happening, the line of people waiting in line gets longer. I have an adorable resident posted outside the door whose job is to sign people in and keep the residents abreast of our progress. The room is ready for distribution around 10:30am.

Our pantry volunteers are awesome. They enjoy helping. It makes them feel like they are contributing in making the community a great place to live. Volunteers help by picking up and distributing food, distributing flyers, helping residents that need assistance, and more.

The community pantry is truly appreciated here at the Plymouth. For some, our distribution is the only time during the month our residents enjoy a full and complete meal.

We appreciate the time Ivonne took to share about her feeding program with us. We’re touched and inspired by seniors at the Plymouth and we cannot wait to go back!





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