Social service program provides seniors with take-out and delivery meals

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Pico Rivera senior center staff prepare meals for delivery. (Photo courtesy of the city of Pico Rivera)

Denae Ayala, Community News Reporter

Senior citizens southeast Los Angeles County and unincorporated areas who participated in senior center activities and especially the lunch programs were worried when the centers were closed after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “safer-at-home” order.

But thanks to the Southeast Area Social Services Funding Authority (SASSFA) —  a public agency that provides social services at no cost — qualified seniors who are residents of La Mirada, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs, Whittier and the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County will be able to pick up meals from some locations and get meals delivered from others.

After the senior center in Pico Rivera suspended its programs and events, Gustavo Camacho, the city’s mayor, said during a virtual council meeting late last month:  “I am working with staff to implement new programs to expand services to our seniors and families.”

He added that Pico Rivera senior center employees are providing an alternative route for seniors to pick up their meals with the help of SASSFA.

Victoria Diago, a resident of Pico Rivera, is thankful these services will continue. “I was worried I would no longer be able to get my meals, but I knew Pico would find a way, and they did, they always do!” she wrote in a Facebook direct message. 

Diago said she meets the qualifications of getting meals delivered to her home: “As long as I make my reservations before the delivery dates, I always get my meals.”

Meals include meatloaf with gravy, beef picado, vegetarian lasagna, Cream 5 Cabbage Ginger Soup, and sweet and sour chicken. 

Participants are also allowed to have their children or other relatives pick up their meals for them if they are unable to do so themselves. 

For instance, Gabriela Acosta commented on Pico Rivera’s Facebook page that she was able to pick up meals for her mother, Christine, during distribution. 

“As long as the seniors are reserved and registered with the program, you can pick up for your mother and your loved ones,” said Gabriel Castorena, the communications technician for Pico Rivera. He encouraged seniors to call the center if they have any questions regarding meals, registration, and reservations.

Registered seniors must RSVP with the senior center’s site manager in order to pick up their meals or have them delivered. Meals for registered seniors who have RSVPed can be picked up “drive-through” style on Mondays and Wednesdays, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., and deliveries happen 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

To qualify for the SASSFA’s pick up meal programs, including Pico’s, you must be 60 years old or older and 65 years old for deliveries.

Sante Fe Springs is encouraging seniors to stay home and will no longer be distributing meals at the Gus Velasco Neighborhood Center. Instead, SASSFA will begin delivering the frozen meals, five per week, on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Meanwhile, Whittier is allowing seniors to pick up their meals at Adventure Park. 

Information about SASSFA’s meal program for seniors and how to register is available by calling (562) 699-3231, extension 252.