Delivering Meals – and More

Rosa Olan sitting at a small dining table.

Plants hang in the window in the tidy Amsterdam Avenue apartment where Rosa Olan has lived for 16 years. She sits at a small dining table just inside the front door, next to the wall she painted herself with jaunty brown and white stripes.

Olan worked hard for decades after moving here from Puerto Rico: first in a casino in Atlantic City, and then as a security guard around New York. She has an energy that lights up the room, and she takes fierce pride in the life she built.

“I’ve enjoyed my life,” she said. “I had everything I wanted because I was working!”

Now that she’s retired, Olan enjoys visiting with family and socializing with a friend in her building. But getting around is a challenge — she walks with two canes due to chronic pain from scoliosis and arthritis. Getting a nutritious meal every day from our Home Delivered Meals program saves a lot of strain on her back.

“The meals help because I don’t have to be standing over the stove,” she said. “And I love the food. I like the meatballs and the chicken parm. The baked fish is delicious!”

Our Home Delivered Meals kitchen staff cooks up a fresh entree from scratch every day, with vegetables on the side. Juice, fruit and milk round out the meals, which are nutritionally balanced to meet city Department for the Aging requirements. Staffers and volunteers bring the food in insulated bags to more than 500 older adults with mobility challenges around the Upper West Side.

But food isn’t the only kind of support Home Delivered Meals offers. A few years ago the program did a study and found some people on their service had other needs that weren’t being addressed. For example, 70 percent of recipients reported needing help with laundry, 59 percent with housecleaning, and 34 percent with managing money. So they hired social worker Yajaira Valle.

Olan glows when she talks about Valle.”Yajaira came Tuesday. I had to fill out three forms. She helped me do them and then she mailed them in for me,” she said.

“She helped me get my glasses too. And when I had problems with my apartment, she called the city and they fixed it. She’s a great person and I love her!”

“Most people want to stay in their own homes as they age,” said Home Delivered Meals director Karlene Clarke. “Studies show that older adults who get meals delivered are not only better nourished — they’re less isolated. And if people need a little more support, we can provide that too.”

With that support, Olan and hundreds of older adults on the Upper West Side can maintain their independence while staying healthy and nourished.