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Rancho Santa Fe Foundation funds North County Senior Connections

The Rancho Santa Fe Foundation recently announced the funding of a new collaborative program, North County Senior Connections, which will offer food truck lunches and socialization opportunities for vulnerable seniors in North County.

The three-year grant funds the purchase of a food truck by Dreams for Change and staffing from Interfaith Community Services to arrange educational programs and social services for participating seniors. Approximately half of the $750,000 cost of the multiyear program will be covered by the foundation, and half will be covered by other funders.

The program revolves around a food-friends-health approach to senior physical and mental wellness. “We are hoping to provide a mobile senior center,” said Debbie Anderson, programs director at RSF Foundation. “North County is so spread out, and public transportation is inadequate, so we’re taking the senior center to the seniors.”

The pilot program began Monday, Nov. 10, at Vista Village Mobile Home Park in Vista. The food truck lunches and accompanying activities will be held Monday through Thursday each week at two mobile home parks and two faith centers along the Highway 78 corridor.

The Rancho Santa Fe Foundation commissioned the Caster Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research at the University of San Diego to conduct a needs assessment study to better understand the food and transportation needs of the vulnerable senior population in North County. Mary Jo Schumann, Ph.D., associate director of the Caster Center at USD, concluded in the report that “seniors don’t eat well alone,” and that transportation is a key issue in North County. The report suggested “bringing the food to the seniors” via a food truck.

The food truck will be owned and operated by Dreams for Change, a nonprofit that operates a mobile food truck bringing nutritious meals to homeless individuals in downtown San Diego. Dreams for Change handles the nutrition research, menu options and food preparation. The RSF Foundation is subsidizing the cost of the meals. Seniors pay a nominal amount, and Calfresh, a supplemental nutrition assistance program, is accepted for payment. Assistance with Calfresh enrollment will be offered onsite.

ICS has identified four locations for the food truck lunches: El Dorado Park in San Marcos, Vista Village Mobile Home Park in Vista, San Marcos Lutheran Church and St. Francis of Assisi in Vista.

ICS provides a program manager to arrange for educational and recreational programs at the lunch sites. Also, a case manager will refer and connect seniors to additional services they may need.

“We want this to not just be a meal program, but a social event,” Anderson said. “We will have speakers on health or community issues and, for example, a lecture on gardening, a travelogue or tai chi classes.”

For more information, visit www.rsffoundation.org or call 858-759-1531.


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