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Mt. Diablo Unified and Meals on Wheels Diablo Region form culinary partnership
Posted 9/14/22

Meals

 

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) and Meals on Wheels (MOW) Diablo Region are working together to provide Latin American-inspired home delivered meals to meet the needs of the growing Latino population served by MOW Diablo Region.

 

The local nonprofit has long understood the importance of providing culturally relevant services to the senior citizens it serves. Starting in August, it began the Cultural Cuisine pilot program serving 10,000 meals to vulnerable seniors in Concord and Bay Point. MOW Diablo Region reached out to the Mt. Diablo Unified School District to prepare the meals because of their extensive experience providing meals featuring Latin cuisine.

 

MDUSD uses authentic Latin American food preparation techniques to bring out traditional flavors, drawing on the Latin American cuisine expertise of the District’s Culinary Technical Advisor, Chef Joshua Gjersand, who has worked in Michelin star restaurants. These include shredding chicken for Mexican Pollo Tinga with corn tortillas, brown rice, refried beans, carrot sauté and papaya; hand rolling cheese or chicken enchiladas; and roasting peppers and peeling their skins for a Chiles Rellenos casserole served with brown rice, roasted cauliflower, and fresh mango. MOW Diablo Region works with a registered dietician to develop the menu in collaboration with MDUSD to ensure that all meals meet national dietary standards.

 

This is not the first time the two agencies have partnered to help serve the community. When schools were closed due to COVID-19, MDUSD provided meals for Concord senior citizens sponsored by the City of Concord in partnership with the Meals on Wheels Diablo Region, which delivered them. “We worked with MDUSD during the height of the pandemic,” explains Caitlin Sly, Executive Director of MOW Diablo Region. “We knew that they shared our high standards and were great to work with. It was the best choice to partner with them for the Cultural Cuisine pilot program.”

 

Meals on Wheels Diablo Region’s Cultural Cuisine pilot program builds on the agency’s 54 years of providing home delivered meals to homebound seniors. Fourteen per cent of MOW Diablo Region clients overall identify as Latino, but in the Concord and Bay Point areas of the region, 33% of older adults identify as Latino. “We have many Spanish-speaking seniors in our community who prefer meals that reflect their ethnic background,” explains Sly. “We recognize the same food does not work for everyone. The people we serve have varying tastes, just like the rest of us. It is our goal not only to provide enough food, but also the type of food that our elders want to eat.”

 

MOW volunteer

 

Meals on Wheels Diablo Region hopes to eventually expand the Cultural Cuisine pilot program to other communities and looks forward to its continued partnership with MDUSD, which recognizes the benefits of the program. "The Meals on Wheels, Diablo Region Latino Senior Project is helping the Food Nutrition Service Department grow and develop recipes that will be served to our high school students,” said Dominic Machi, the District’s Food and Nutrition Services Director. “The program pushes our creativity developing recipes and allows us to seek out the highest quality ingredients."

 

This week, Food & Nutrition Services introduced New Daily Specials in our High School Menu, which included Hand-rolled Chicken Verde Burritos and were very successful. "Food & Nutrition Services will continue to develop scratch made recipes in our kitchens to support student academic success," Machi said.

 

To learn more about the Meals on Wheels Cultural Cuisine pilot program, call 925-937-8311 or click here