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This nonprofit offers culturally competent meal delivery for vulnerable seniors

May 6, 2020 Category: FeaturedMediumPurpose
The trays hold bulgogi, rice, kimchi, seasoned bean sprouts and stir-fried anchovies with walnuts — not the usual emergency meal fare.

That’s because those trays are part of the recently launched PASSi Kitchen Xpress — a meal delivery effort by Penn Asian Senior Services (PASSi) — that looks to meet and satisfy not only the USDA dietary guidelines but also the preferences and tastes of Asian American seniors impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PASSi operates the Penn Asian Jubilee Center and the Penn Asian Evergreen Center which, when Philadelphia isn’t in social isolation mode, are an adult day care and senior community center, respectively. The majority of those served by both centers are low-income Asian American senior citizens with limited English proficiency, and the centers provide them with a lunch on a daily basis six days per week.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the state closed all adult day care centers, and senior community centers in mid-March,” Clayton Fitch, a grant writer for PASSi told Generocity via email. “When we closed our programs we tried to identify ways to ensure that the needs of our seniors could continue to be met while they were staying safe at home. One of the areas that we identified was the need to continue to feed our seniors due to a variety of factors including their financial situation [and the fact that] many do not have access to reliable transportation to go to the grocery store to purchase food.”

So on April 13, PASSi launched the Kitchen Xpress program from its East Oak Lane campus. Through the program, the organization provides free, freshly prepared, “culturally considerate” meals for seniors, five days per week, through non-contact delivery and curbside pick-up.

“PASSi is committed to ensuring that our seniors are able to live independently in the community,” the organization’s founder and CEO Im Ja Choi said in announcing the service. “During these challenging times, when seniors are even more vulnerable, we are proud to help ensure that our respected seniors do not go hungry.”

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Like the meal described at the beginning of this article, all of the meals prepared for Kitchen Xpress are aligned with USDA guidelines and include a variety of nutrient-dense, whole foods and low-fat proteins.

“The meals that we provide are all freshly prepared Asian meals that are nutritiously balanced and designed to meet the tastes of Asian seniors,” Fitch said. “They are cooked in our kitchen by our amazing kitchen staff. The menus vary day-to-day, but all include vegetables, rice, and some form of low-fat protein.”

“When we say that the meals are ‘culturally considerate’ and ‘culturally attuned,’ [we mean] the meals include ingredients and flavors that are unique to Asian cooking,” Fitch added. “There are certain food products and ingredients included in other meal delivery programs that may cause digestion issues for Asian American seniors which are not included in our recipes.”

Seniors or their caregivers can request meal delivery or curbside pick-up by filling out this request form and emailing it to ken.yang@passi.us, or by calling 215-572-1234 ext. 116. Seniors will need to provide their name, date of birth, address, and either an email address or phone number when contacting PASSi.

All of the meals are delivered in the late afternoon by either MERCY Fleet — which has partnered with PASSi to provide the service — or by PASSi employee volunteers.

“In the short time we have been running the program we have seen incredible demand for the service,” Fitch said, “and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to meet the needs of seniors during these challenging times.”


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