Serving Seniors: San Diego’s Hidden Hungry

November 26, 2015

Do I pay rent or buy food? No senior should have to ask themselves these questions.

Many seniors live on just $850 per month and have to pay $700 to live in a single room downtown. By the end of the month, many seniors are eating just one meal a day.

In San Diego, 41 percent of the senior population falls far below the income level for self-sufficiency. This equates to 141,000 seniors in San Diego. Many of these seniors are grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren. Other vulnerable populations include single women, Latinos and African Americans. Data shows that the self-sufficiency level for seniors is an income of $24,000 per year. However, one in four seniors live on about $11,500 per year. This is even below the poverty level of $12,500 per year.

Our seniors have nowhere else to turn for help. They do not have families and do not have additional means for support.

“Without Serving Seniors I would be up a creek without a paddle,” says Isobel Watson. “You cannot imagine what it means to me to have a hot meal delivered daily.”

We don’t think any senior should have to suffer. That’s why we deliver 2,400 meals daily, 365 days a year, to seniors throughout San Diego County.  Meals are delivered to 10 congregate sites around San Diego County – from San Ysidro to Mira Mesa – as well as to 500 homes for clients who are home-bound.

We are the largest provider of meals, accounting for 50 percent of meal delivery services to low income seniors in San Diego. Our home-bound senior clients cannot get out to senior centers due to health ailments or are isolated from their community. Meals are delivered by staff members so that there is continuity and care for the senior’s needs.

In 2015, Serving Seniors will provide nearly 600,000 meals throughout the year.

“Every day Anna comes and delivers these wonderful meals and what I really like is the little things: milk, bread, little cups of fruit, an orange, an apple,” says Anne O’Dwyer. “Aside from the monetary savings, it really is delightful to have somebody visit me every day.”

Serving Seniors does not stop at meals. We also help low income seniors find affordable housing, connect with social workers and nurses, and help them with transportation. But most of all, we give them the feeling of family. They know someone cares and will listen to them when they’re down. They know they can rely on us to be there for them whenever they need us. We call this our coordinated care model. Please visit our website to learn more about services for seniors at

We invite you to join our campaign to help the Hidden Hungry. A gift of $10 pays for four meals. A $100 donation will buy a month of meals for one senior. Best of all, if you donate today, your contribution is matched dollar-for-dollar for all new, renewed and upgraded donations thanks to our generous donors, Marge and Neal Schmale.

Our campaign ends Dec. 31, so please make your donation today to have your gift doubled. Donations can be made right from our website or you can call us to learn more at 619-487-0605. You will make a difference to San Diego’s Hidden Hungry.

We are grateful for the opportunity to meet our mission of helping seniors in poverty live healthy and fulfilling lives. Thank you for being part of our family.


Paul Downey is the president and CEO of Serving Seniors, a nonprofit agency dedicated to increasing the quality of life for San Diego seniors living in poverty. Learn more at