Providing seniors with healthy food has always been a major part of Toni’s Kitchen’s work. Feeding America says that 1 in 14 seniors across the country were food insecure in 2019, the latest year they surveyed. And here in Essex County, there are about 120,000 people over the age of 65.
Since Covid struck almost two years ago, Toni’s Kitchen has increased the number and frequency of deliveries of meals and groceries to seniors in our community.
Recently, we surveyed our seniors to understand better the challenges they are facing, how they are managing during Covid, and their thoughts about the meals and service they receive from Toni’s Kitchen. The seniors we surveyed live in Montclair and have housing.
117 seniors responded to the survey. 75% of the respondents were female. The racial makeup of the respondents was more than 50% diverse (48.5% Black, 3% Asian, 1% American Indian/Alaskan Native). 12% of respondents were of Latino ethnicity. 82% of the respondents were retired.
Of the seniors who responded to a question about household size, 64% said they live alone, 28% said they live with one other person, and 8% said they lived with 2 or more persons in their household.
As we develop and implement our service to seniors, it’s important to know how connected seniors are to technology. Our survey showed that 85% of the seniors who responded have a cell phone, 62% said they text, and just under 55% said they have a television with Internet connectivity.
Looking ahead, only 23% of respondents said they would not need meal and produce/grocery delivery from Toni’s Kitchen once the Covid pandemic restrictions ease. 43% said they would continue to need assistance and 34% were not sure.
About one-quarter of respondents reported being often bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless during the month prior to the survey.
So many of our seniors talked about how important their family and friends are to their lives, and how grateful they are to Toni’s Kitchen for the food we deliver.
As we continue to work towards ending food insecurity in our community, our work with seniors will continue to be an important part of that goal. Getting the feedback of seniors from this survey will help us serve them better. Special thanks to Toni’s Kitchen volunteer and Advisory Committee member Sybil Eng who developed the survey and did the analysis.