It has been a yr of progress, adaptation and uncertainty for La Comida, the Palo Alto nonprofit that prepares and serves about 1,700 meals to seniors each week.
The pandemic had upended La Comida’s conventional mannequin — a eating corridor the place seniors eat and socialize in a communal setting — and compelled it to pivot to distributing prepackaged meals at two drop-off places: Stevenson Home, the Charleston Street senior housing facility the place La Comida usually hosts it meal program, and the Masonic Corridor in downtown Palo Alto. It then partnered with Lytton Gardens, an assisted-living neighborhood, and the nonprofit Alta Housing to distribute extra meals to seniors with dietary wants.
Demand for La Comida’s companies elevated over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, mentioned Invoice Blodgett, co-president of La Comida’s board of administrators. Over the previous yr, it has served about 75,000 meals — a 75% enhance over the prior yr — to the roughly 800 seniors who take part in its applications. About 59% of the seniors are ages 75 or older and about 81% are from Palo Alto, Blodgett informed the Metropolis Council throughout a Could 17 presentation. As well as, it has been transport meals.
“Clearly, rising meals insecurity is especially an issue amongst older adults,” Blodgett mentioned.
La Comida additionally has been pressured to confront one other dilemma. In October, the nonprofit discovered that the Masonic Corridor will not be extending its settlement with the group to be used of its house as a distribution level. On the Could 17, Blodgett informed the council that the nonprofit is searching for a brand new downtown location beginning on June 1 — one that might accommodate the a whole bunch of seniors who reside in north Palo Alto and who depend on its program.
“With out a downtown location, dietary threat and elevated isolation will turn out to be a higher downside for a good portion of the seniors we now have served over time,” Blodgett informed the council.
Since that assembly, the group has acquired some excellent news. Blodgett informed this information publication that La Comida has reached an settlement with the First United Methodist Church on Hamilton Avenue to make use of the church’s courtyard for meal distribution. However whereas the partnership will permit La Comida to proceed to distribute its prepackaged meals in a downtown location, a lot because it does immediately, it doesn’t remedy its long-term challenge: the necessity to discover house for congregate eating in northern Palo Alto.
Blodgett famous that with Santa Clara County lately entering the “yellow tier” of the state’s Blueprint for a Safe Recovery and the state getting ready to take away COVID-19 restrictions on June 15, the demand for social eating will return. The problem, he mentioned, is discovering a facility with a industrial kitchen that can permit La Comida to arrange meals and have sufficient capability for 80 diners.
The perfect answer, he mentioned, is Avenidas, the nonprofit that gives a number of senior companies out of its lately renovated downtown headquarters on Bryant Avenue. The 2 nonprofits have a protracted historical past collectively, with La Comida working its vitamin program on the Avenidas web site for almost 4 many years. The partnership came to an end in 2017, as soon as Avenidas moved forward with its reconstruction undertaking and made it clear that it could now not have the house to accommodate La Comida’s lunch program.
Blodgett harassed throughout this Could 17 presentation that bringing La Comida again to Avenidas would permit Palo Alto to consolidate the vitamin program with the numerous courses and recreation applications provided by Avenidas.
“It is not a coincidence or an accident that city-owned senior facilities in Mountain View, Santa Clara, Campbell, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Gilroy and Alviso all provide lunch applications and all the opposite senior companies in a single facility,” he mentioned.
He additionally famous in an interview that the circumstances have modified for the reason that final partnership between La Comida and Avenidas dissolved. In contrast to in 2017, it now has a eating space with a industrial kitchen in Stevenson Home. As such, it could not have to depend on the downtown location to accommodate the whole program.
However from Avenidas’ perspective, La Comida’s want for house continues to be too nice to be accommodated within the Bryant Avenue constructing. To adjust to the necessities of the People with Disabilities Act, the constructing was redesigned to incorporate a brand new elevator system and extra accessible bogs, based on Kari Martell, a spokesperson for Avenidas. This resulted in a smaller eating room, she mentioned.
“We’re actually very acquainted with La Comida and its folks, have nice respect for the work they do and stand prepared to assist them and the folks they serve,” Martell wrote in an e mail. “For this particular request, although, we merely haven’t got the house accessible.”
Martell mentioned the Avenidas board of administrators and its interim CEO John Sinks have mentioned La Comida’s wants and its renewed curiosity in serving meals on the Bryant Avenue location. In response, Martell mentioned, Avenidas advised three completely different concepts with which the senior-services group can assist.
“We provided to behave as a distribution web site for La Comida meals, we might discover having a La Comida meal choice in our Cafe, or we might use our transportation program to drive seniors to the La Comida eating web site.”
The group has been knowledgeable that these concepts “do not meet the socialization goals of the La Comida program,” Martell mentioned, although Sinks has expressed to Palo Alto officers his nonprofit’s curiosity in “maintaining the concepts flowing.” Blodgett mentioned La Comida can be wanting ahead to “a great dialogue” with Avenidas.
“After having a great collaboration for years, I do not see any cause why that may’t occur once more,” he mentioned.