Nourishment, Consistency, Flexibility
The Food Service has been a consistent support to program partners throughout the Southwest service area.
The menus are planned to use items sent in each shipment. The feedback is the food items are good and helps save the program money. The food items are a welcome resource, money saved is used in other activities, e.g. watercolor classes & quilting classes.” At the time of the report, the program served 62 congregate meals and 50 home delivery. — Pre-COVID comments from Quechan Senior Center on March 5, 2020; reporting both meal options: congregate and home delivery
Southwest Reservation Aid's (SWRA) Standard Food service has been a consistent support to program partners throughout the Southwest service area. The shipments have allowed the partners to purchase other items from their limited budget to enhance their menus and activities to Elders.
In the case of Quechan Senior Center on the Fort Yuma Reservation, the center was able to provide watercolor and quilting classes keeping their Elders engaged and creative. This was a pre-COVID comment from Quechan, but does not represent the reality of their empty tables and chairs they face amidst a deadly pandemic.
Support from SWRA has allowed program partners to enhance their menus and activities for elders.
The threat of COVID-19 caused a huge shift for the Senior Centers. They've temporarily had to change from a combination of congregate and home-delivered meals to strictly home-delivered meals. Some centers are offering curbside pick-up if they do not have the means to deliver all the meals. There are more costs associated with switching to all home-delivered meals: containers to keep the food hot, PPE’s for the staff delivering, fuel, and repairs for the vehicles delivering in rural and isolated areas — the list goes on so SWRA's consistency is important to their menu planning.
For the most part, our drivers are the only ones able to see our partners - to ensure their deliveries. SWRA is honoring requests from tribal leaders to minimize contact with individuals outside of their communities. These tribal leaders also recognize the importance of getting needed supplies to the people, so they have deemed our trucks “essential” to deliver on their lands even when COVID travel restrictions are in place.
We appreciate all the work and flexibility that our partners have displayed in these challenging times. For the time being, we miss our face-to-face visits, but their safety and health are paramount. These comments from Program Partners have come in from all four directions to the Phoenix office to share their appreciation and the significance of our donors’ support:
Elders enjoying a community meal, pre-COVID
- “Beans are used in a stew, flour is used to make tortillas, and rice is used to make chicken soup. The service helped provide meals to Elders during the pandemic. This helps by being proactive in the community.” — Tohono O’odham Senior Center (Tohono) on July 21, 2020
- “The food items are used to make traditional foods — beans, tortillas, etc. Due to the increase of clientele, the food items were very helpful in feeding more tribal elders. With a limited department budget, the Center was not able to feed elders, but when the SWRA food arrived the Center was able to feed more elders.” — Whiteriver Elderly Services (San Carlos Apache) on June 30, 2020
- ““The center stopped serving congregate meals on 03/16/20 but continued to serve home-delivered meals. The service really helped during the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially that we had to deliver more homebound meals to Elders.” — Sif-Oidak District Senior Center (Tohono) on June 2, 2020
- “The food comes in handy… especially now since they are serving more Elders at home. SWRA assists in providing more meals for the Elder. More Elders are coming to the Center for drive-by meals or home-delivered meals due to the pandemic.” — Birdsprings Senior Center (Navajo) on July 9, 2020
- “The food items are good and work well with the Center menu. The food items given to the clients [provide] the daily nutrition they need throughout the day. The food donations are great for the Center.” — Huerfano Senior Program (Navajo) on July 1, 2020
- “Due to the budget at this time, the food has been very helpful and using items as part of the menu. We are buying more fruits, vegetables, and fresh meat.” — Kaibeto Senior Center (Navajo) on July 16, 2020
- "The food is used when needed in the daily menu. The drive-thru service has attracted Elders, more new clients…. Thank you."
— Many Farms Senior Center (Navajo) on July 2, 2020
- “The food received is important because it helps the center especially at this time when the food budget is closed. The Center has a limited budget for ordering food items. SWRA helps the Center to continue to serve the elderly meals for a few more weeks until the new budget is approved. Everything worked out." — Nazlini Senior Center (Navajo) on July 16, 2020
- “It is of great quality and helps feed so many. The food items are helping so much especially now in these times of need for Elders” — Pojoaque Pueblo Senior Center (Pojoaque) on July 16, 2020
Program Partners use items sent to make traditional, nourishing meals for elders.
With the additional costs of providing home-delivered food to elders, it is more important than ever for SWRA to provide consistent support for our program partners. Thank you to our donors and friends for their kindness and generosity that makes this service possible.
Due to social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and most importantly, concern for the health of our Native Elders, the photos above were taken pre-pandemic and repurposed for the use of this story. Thank you for understanding.