Local Restaurants Cooking for ‘Great Plates Delivered' Program for Seniors

Thirty-one local restaurants are participating in the initiative including Kensington Café.

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During the pandemic, many San Diego seniors have been unable to go to the store or restaurants to get food, but thanks to the “Great Plates Delivered” program hundreds of people are getting free, nutritious meals every day.

San Diego County has announced the program is being extended until July 10.

Thirty-one local restaurants are participating in the initiative including Kensington Café.

“We saw this as an opportunity to help and give back at a time when there’s a lot of people in need, and also help us keep afloat during a difficult time,” said Lauren Passero Brookes, owner of Kensington Café.

More than 1,400 older adults are getting free meals daily, according to the county. 

The county is reimbursing restaurants for the cost of food and labor with funds from FEMA, the state and the county.

“We go all over the place from Mission Valley to Oak Park to East County, all around the neighborhood. Anywhere these folks are at,” said Shawna Haligowski, an employee at Kensington Café.

Kensington Café serves about 20 seniors daily and expects that to increase in the coming weeks. Delivery drivers drop off food at a client’s front door and do not have any physical contact with seniors. 

The people receiving the food are extremely grateful, and send thank you notes to the employees at Kensington Café.

“Just their thank you and their gratitude at the end of the day is amazing. They wrote so many kind words and I’ve met so many of them. I can’t wait to give them a hug,” said Haligowski.

One 94-year-old woman wrote to the store saying, "Your food delivery has been a blessing. I hope one day to be able to visit your restaurant and thank you in person."

For more details, call the County Aging and Independence Services at (800) 339-4661 or visit this website. You can also call 2-1-1.

The program is open to county residents who meet the following criteria:

  • People 65 and older who live alone or with one other older adult
  • County residents 60-64 who are high-risk as defined by the CDC, including:
    • People who tested positive for COVID-19
    • People with an underlying medical condition that puts them at a higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19
    • People who have been exposed to COVID-19 and do not require hospitalization, but are required to self-isolate or self-quarantine

Those who receive assistance from other state or federal nutrition assistance programs, such as CalFresh, Meals on Wheels, and the Senior Nutrition Program, are not eligible for the program.

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