Farm to Food Truck: How San Diego Seniors Benefit from Innovative Program

Fifty percent of the produce served in the North County Senior Connections (NCSC) food truck lunches is sourced from local San Diego farmers’ markets.  After 90 days of program operation, the majority of seniors surveyed reported that their overall nutrition has improved.  Eighty percent of seniors surveyed said that NCSC has improved their quality of life.

Life-improving Outcomes

These life-improving outcomes reveal the true impact of a program that, in three months, has made significant progress toward achieving its six-month goals of number of meals and seniors served.  In its first six months, NCSC expected to serve 2,500 lunches to 200 unduplicated vulnerable seniors; from November 2014 through January 2015, the program has served over 1,000 lunches, and 180 unique seniors have participated.

Innovative Program in San Diego

The innovative NCSC program uses a food-friends-wellness model that addresses the nutritional and social needs of a vulnerable senior population in Vista and San Marcos.  The lunches are prepared and provided from a food truck at two mobile home parks and two faith centers weekly on Monday through Thursday (except holidays).  The seniors pay $2.00 for lunch, and they can use Calfresh for payment.

“I think this is an excellent program for seniors,” said one participant in the survey. “Food, friends, information and entertainment – and it’s totally affordable.”

Food-Friends-Wellness

The menu is developed for seniors, from no-salt seasoning and lean meats, to portion sizes and individually customized food orders to meet specific needs.  Daily specials add variety to the menu, and those options have included chicken quesadillas, pork chops and salmon burgers.

Beyond the food, a key aspect of NCSC is to provide socialization and enhance the wellness of the participating seniors.  Many program participants bring friends and neighbors and are spreading the word about the program to encourage others to attend.  Interfaith Community Services staff arrange for an activity to inform and entertain the seniors after lunch.  Activities have included line dancing, blood pressure screening and sing-alongs.  A case manager is also on site to connect seniors with additional services as needed.

Nonprofit and Funder Partnerships

Partner nonprofits, Interfaith Community Services and Dreams for Change, provide the food and services for NCSC.  Through a multi-year grant commitment, the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation has granted nearly $100,000 from the Community Impact Fund for the food truck, program staff and meal subsidies. We are currently reaching out to other funders and donors to collaborate on funding the program for future sustainability.  If you or an organization you represent are interested in supporting this program, please use the Contact or Donate forms on our website to connect with us.  Together we can make even greater progress in addressing the nutrition and wellness needs of vulnerable seniors in the San Diego region.