With a mission to give back to the community, Medstar Laboratory, Inc. president Neal Patel and his brother, chief operating officer Raj Patel, announced on January 10th their company has launched a pilot program to expand their gourmet sit-down meals to 125 low-income seniors in two of the Habilitative Systems, Inc. buildings on the West Side of Chicago.
In an interview at his Hillside office, Neal Patel told the Chicago Crusader they are expanding their Golden Diners senior program. “We want to make them happy, make them feel special. Our team will go out there and serve them.”
If this pilot program to feed the food insecure seniors goes well, Neal Patel said his company will expand the free gourmet meal program citywide.
“We do business in the area and have decided to help seniors [in their] homes and make them feel special,” Neal Patel said. “They are in an underserved area. We want to give them a really nice, healthy meal and make them happy. We want to make sure they are treated well.”
Last Christmas, Medstar launched the company’s Nutrition and Health Equity Initiative for senior citizens at the Enola Dew Senior Apartments, 4623 W. Gladys Ave., along with Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford (D-8th), Donald Dew, president and CEO of Habilitative Systems, Inc., and Dr. Vijay G. Prabhakar, president of the American MultiEthnic Coalition, which works closely with Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-7th).
This year, Medstar is donating $20,000 to cover expenses for the meals, according to Dew. He stated the first luncheon will be held on the fourth Friday of each month, with the exception of November and December when the luncheon will be held on the third Friday due to the holidays. He is grateful to be a partner with Medstar.
Medstar officials presented a check for $20,000 to Dew’s organization as a show of support and to aid in expanding nutritional needs of the seniors.
Two of Dew’s senior buildings the Elois McCoy Apartments, 4650 W. Van Buren, and the Enola Dew Apartments, 4623 W. Gladys.
Dew said his organization “has been providing essential behavioral health services on Chicago’s West and South sides for 45 years. We’re indeed pleased to partner with Medstar Laboratories to address food insecurity and to promote good nutrition monthly for over 100 seniors.”
Food insecurity is among the most prevalent social determinant of health, which impacts mortality rates in African-American communities, stated Dew.
“This monthly Golden Diners event will provide an opportunity for our seniors to engage more socially and prevent isolation exacerbated by the recent pandemic,” Dew told the Chicago Crusader.
In expanding their senior gourmet food program, Raj Patel said, “This is something special, outside the norm. It is something the seniors can look forward to once a month. We will see how this pilot program works out, and then expand it for 2024.”
The food will be healthy, and the menu will be voted on by the senior residents stated Neal Patel. Asked if the meals would be served, he said that would be left up to the nurses at the senior homes. “We are trying to make it like a family-style affair.”