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Chefs for Seniors Provides Healthy Meals and Companionship

By S. Mathur

Loneliness. Malnutrition. High risks for illness and injury. These are not exactly the things that most of us imagine when we think about the Golden Years. Yet seniors living alone face all of these and more. Chefs for Seniors is an innovative meal delivery service, bringing well cooked and nutritious meals to seniors and keeping a friendly and concerned eye on their well being.

The three main elements of the Chefs For Seniors service are customization, companionship, and affordability. Nathan Allman, COO & Co-Founder, explained that meals are customized for people with different dietary concerns. But that's just the beginning.

"A recent study showed that loneliness is as dangerous to someone's health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day," Allman said, "For some of our clients, their chef may be the only person they interact with in a day. Regarding affordability, we want this service to be a long-term, sustainable solution for our clients rather than a one-time luxury/gift."

This unique approach to meal delivery and senior care was born out of Allman's own family experience. Growing up in a restaurant family, Allman worked with his father to set up the catering service.

"About 10 years ago my great-grandmother had to move into an assisted living facility, which was really difficult for her and my entire extended family," he said. "The main reason she had to leave her home of 55 years was that she was struggling to grocery shop and cook meals for herself. I thought if there was a service where a chef comes into the home to provide weekly meals that could be helpful to others like my great-grandmother."

The "chefs who care", to use the company's motto, would also be a kind of backup for caregivers, providing another set of eyes in the home at a different time of day. Because of this dual mission, staff are chosen for their people skills as well as cooking abilities.

"We look for chefs who not only have the ability to prepare nutritious, high-quality meals in an efficient manner but also have the 'soft-skills' to work with a sometimes vulnerable senior clientele," Allman said, "One of the questions we ask every chef during our hiring process is, 'tell me about the closest relationship you've had with a senior'. We want our chefs to understand that we're not just selling meals, we're selling a relationship."

Chefs for Seniors launched in 2013 and has continued to grow in response to demand for their services. There are now locations in Madison, Green Bay, South Florida, and the Chicago area. The meals cost just a little more than services like Blue Apron, but the chefs actually do the cooking in home. Most meals are customized, and the chefs can handle everything from healthy twists on traditional comfort food to sushi.

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