It’s easy for most people to access fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re hankering for a nutritious snack or trying to improve their diet. But many senior citizens in Salt Lake County don’t have that luxury. The county’s aging services department is now delivering fresh produce to the elderly.
Salt Lake County’s MealsPlus program offers weekly produce to Meals on Wheels recipients who request it. Jeremy Hart manages the program.
“We know that there is a lack of fresh produce in the diets of homebound seniors.”
Hart says many seniors have a hard time getting to grocery stores and farmer’s markets as often as they’d like to-noting individual meal deliveries contain only about a third of the daily nutrition recommendation.
“This is just in addition to that for the other 2 thirds of the day that they don’t have the fresh fruits and vegetables,” Hart says.
The fruits and veggies MealsPlus provides come from a combination of donations from commercial growers, the Salt Lake County Jail’s gardening program and Wheeler Farms. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says all of the produce is raised and distributed by volunteers.
“And we’re calling for more volunteers who may want to come help in the garden to harvest produce or to package it to send it out to our seniors,” McAdams says.
Meals on Wheels recipient Midge King says MealsPlus is a blessing.
“The Meals on Wheels program is good,” King says. “But having fresh vegetables is even healthier because you not only get the basics but you get good stuff, you know? I’m able to have salads again.”
Meals on Wheels serves about 1500 seniors in the county regularly. Right now 130 of them have signed up for MealsPlus. County officials say they need more support from volunteers to expand the program.