Downtown San Diego has many low-income at-risk residents who need assistance. Many of their needs are met by the Senior Community Centers. The Senior Community Centers have been the leading provider of nutrition, advocacy, health, and social services for the underserved population of downtown San Diego for the past 30 years. The recipients are normally over 60 years old and may suffer from poverty, malnutrition, chronic medical conditions, mental illness, homelessness, and isolation. The services provided by the Senior Community Centers promote self-sufficiency and the ability for seniors to live independently for as long as they can. The program teaches healthy lifestyle choices and provides a continuum of expanded nutrition services.
The center serves meals 365 days per year at the Broadway center and Monday through Friday at two additional downtown locations. The center is the only organization that delivers breakfast and lunch to homebound seniors living downtown. By providing healthy and balanced meals in a safe and welcoming environment, the program reduces hunger anxiety, improves physical and mental well-being, and decreases the harm relation to taking prescription drugs without food. In addition to this, the volunteers reduce depression and isolation and improve seniors’ knowledge and practice of good nutrition.
The Senior Community Centers incorporate services that enhance both the physical and mental health of the clients. They have nutrition services as well as nutrition education workshops, medical case management and referrals, social work assistance, advocacy for senior citizens, housing assistance, intergenerational activities, and health promotion programs. The centers’ programs reduce harm and isolation and promote positive live choices. Last year the centers provided services to more than 5,000 seniors.
The efforts of the volunteers save the agency over $150,000 in personnel costs annually. Lunch is served by over 400 local professionals who volunteer through the “Serving Seniors” Program. The center also offers its senior customers the opportunity to also serve in a volunteer position to increase their feelings of usefulness and self-worth.
The Senior Community Centers have been recognized and honored with the 2000 Starfish Award for outstanding program development. As the number and needs of seniors in San Diego continues to grow exponentially, the services and support provided by Senior Community Centers are essential to responding to the challenges faced by these underserved seniors.