Chef cooks meals in seniors’ kitchens to keep them healthy

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Lisa Youngquist wanted to spice up her meals.

She’d loved the companionship that the Meals on Wheels volunteers brought whenever they made deliveries. And she definitely didn’t want to go back to the time before that, when for three to four years, she’d reheat a frozen, store-bought meal every day — good luck finding the veggies.

She wanted to eat well. It helps her failing body parts that, at just 66, ache so much that she spends most of the day in bed, soothed by heating pads. She has a condition that keeps her from absorbing Vitamin D.


Enter Nicky Foust, who in February had just started a local franchise of the business Chefs for Seniors. She shops for groceries and then cooks meals for clients in their own homes — in this case, the same house where Youngquist has lived for 30 years.

“The house smells wonderful,” Youngquist attested after Foust had just finished cooking baked apples, spinach mushroom quiche, black beans and sausage and pork fried rice.

The meals will last two weeks. Next time, Youngquist is looking forward to a Moroccan dish — yes, with spices, perhaps more than many senior citizens like or can handle.

It is one of many services that help to keep seniors in their own homes — and well fed. Foust said she tailors the meals to each person’s tastes and medical and dietary restrictions, at first going through a list of ingredients that the person is willing to eat, like onions, garlic, mushrooms, celery, turkey and so on. She presents a menu of dishes from which they can choose. They also choose if they want breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The taste buds of seniors can turn fickle. So, serving just any food can lead to wasted meals and, as a result, declining health.

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