Nourishing Meals Reminds Senior of Exotic, World Travels
September 18, 2023Jim Oswald
Photo Courtesy: Raven Nielsen

Ilene, who receives Meals on Wheels, has traveled the globe in her younger days. The Brooklyn, New York native has lived in India, picked grapes in various cities in France and visited a multitude of countries including Morocco, and China.

Ilene, who recently turned 72, settled in San Francisco in 1978. She says she enjoys all the City has to offer – its beautiful parks, free concerts, and thriving neighborhoods full of restaurants and produce markets.  In 2020, she had knee surgery which has decreased how long she can walk around the city and even climb up the stairs to her third-floor apartment in the City’s Chinatown neighborhood.

After her surgery, a social worker at Kaiser recommended Meals on Wheels to her as the regular food shopping trips, hauling of heavy bags of groceries, and even preparing a meal in her kitchen, were wearing her out.

“I’m grateful for Meals on Wheels,” Ilene explains.  “A lot of the time, I get tired, so popping meals in the microwave is very helpful. Also, I save probably about $20-$50 a week in food costs.”

When Meals on Wheels social worker Jazmine Narro learned that Ilene needed a new microwave, she delivered one to her, personally.  

“Ilene was all smiles when I arrived and is such a ball of light,” Jazmine explained. “She stays as optimistic as possible, and likes to stay busy in her garden.”

Meals on Wheels: Like Family

Ilene says she also enjoys her meal deliveries from Fernando, even referring to him as the “son she never had.”

“When Fernando comes, it’s a wonderful start to my day,” Ilene says.

Fernando Davila is a former Domino’s pizza delivery driver and has been working for us for the past year, He says he loves his new job and helping people.

“I have family like Ilene so I want to help people like her because we all can use help. Everybody. Right?” he explains.

In addition to the twice-a-week meal delivery visits from Fernando, Ilene says she really loves the food because it brings back memories of her younger days of international travel.

“The grits with cheese is incredible – it takes me back to the 70s,” Ilene recounts. “And the vegan lamb and tagine dish is also incredible. It reminds me of being back in Morocco.”

When Ilene is not exploring the City, she enjoys spending time in the building’s rooftop garden where she tends to her flowers and a thriving crop of cherry tomatoes.


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