My in-laws, both in their seventies, don’t eat all that well. Part of the issue is cultural, both of them having been brought up where if it wasn’t fried, it wasn’t food, but part of it is age-related. Knocking together a salad or a pot of pasta or somesuch, a simple task when you’re 30 or 50, can become a major ordeal for the older person. My mother, 94 years old, struggles with opening jars and lifting some bowls, even when they’re empty. A story on NPR recently brought this nutritional challenge to my mind.
A healthy diet is good for everyone. But as people get older, cooking nutritious food can become difficult and sometimes physically impossible. A pot of soup can be too heavy to lift. And there’s all that time standing on your feet. It’s one of the reasons that people move into assisted living facilities.
The story revolved around a company that sends chefs into senior’s homes to cook a week worth of meals for them. Having listened while driving, I didn’t have pen and paper at hand, but the cash flow of this business didn’t seem to make sense. If I’m figuring it right, these chefs are bringing in a whopping $360 a week on average. Presumably they have a restaurant job to rely on.
But since Chefs for Seniors has not made it to most cities around the country, the great senior nutrition challenge falls to the seniors themselves or their friends and families.
What a great service a church or just a good neighbor could do by ensuring that not only do healthy groceries make it into the house but that those foods are prepared or accessible. What does that mean? Perhaps it means pre-packaging some meals that can be popped into the microwave. Maybe it involves cutting up produce. It might simply require putting some pickles or other jar-dwelling food into something easier to open.
When Jesus said “Feed my sheep,” He did not mean primarily to feed them food, but I’m fairly certain that He didn’t intend to neglect that. Preparing healthy food for those who struggle to do it themselves might not lengthen their lives but it will surely improve their lives and bless you at the same time.