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CenCal Health Donates $400,000 to Feed Seniors on Central Coast

May 20, 2019

Two Senior Meal Programs in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties Each Receive $100,000 from Local Health Plan, plus $100,000 in Matching Funds

Two events this month highlighted the need for funding Senior Meal programs on the Central Coast. This past Friday in Solvang, Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County (CAC) presented the annual Community Action Champions dinner that raised much-needed funds for its Senior Healthy Lunch program. CenCal Health committed up to $100,000 in matching funds to this community-based senior nutrition initiative, in addition to a $100,000 gift. CAC raised close to $350,000 with this support from CenCal Health. On May 11, Meals that Connect, a San Luis Obispo County non-profit that serves daily nutritious meals to seniors, hosted its annual fundraising event at The Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach. With a $100,000 gift from CenCal Health, and an additional contribution of matching funds, Meals That Connect raised over $373,000. This money will provide noontime meals in ten community service centers around the county, as well as meals to homebound seniors.

“Serving 156,000 meals a year to those in need in Santa Barbara County requires a well-funded food service operation,” said Anthony “Tony” Mitchell, Chief Operating Officer for CAC. “CenCal Health’s continued support of our Senior Healthy Meal program makes a vital difference to the health and well-being of many seniors in the community.”

Almost 4 million seniors suffer from malnutrition in the United States. Seniors living alone can often feel depressed and isolated. Every aspect of obtaining nutrition can be a hurdle for seniors: transportation for shopping, the cost of quality food, cooking safely at home and dental health. Because these factors together exacerbate health problems, senior nutrition and the related social interaction is increasingly recognized as a key Social Determinant of Health that health plans must address. “These two local organizations both exemplify our mission at CenCal Health: to improve the health and well-being of the community,” said Bob Freeman, CEO of CenCal Health. “Good nutrition is one of the best ways to encourage good health, and breaking bread with others feeds the spirit and allows people to lead a fuller life.”

CenCal Health Donates $400,000 to Feed Seniors “I have delivered many meals to homebound seniors and experienced first-hand, the dire need many older men and women have for life’s necessities,” said Elias Nimeh, Executive Director of Meals That Connect.
“I have visited meal serving sites throughout the County during lunch time, and witnessed the eagerness of seniors to visit with each other every day during this important lunch hour. To some of them, the socialization is as important as the meal itself. The partnership with CenCal Health has been a gift like no other to our senior community.”

About CenCal Health

CenCal Health’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve by providing access to high quality health services, along with education and outreach, for our membership. As a public entity, CenCal Health is a community-accountable health plan partnering with over 1,500 local physicians, hospitals and other providers in delivering exceptional patient care to more than 175,000 members – about one in four residents of Santa Barbara County and one in five residents of San Luis Obispo County. Established in 1983, it is the oldest managed Medicaid plan of its kind in the nation. CenCal Health employs close to 250 people at offices in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, and contributes approximately $50 million a month into the local economy, primarily through payments to healthcare providers who serve our membership.

About Meals That Connect

Meals That Connect is a nonprofit organization serving daily nutritious meals to seniors in San Luis Obispo County. The organization was founded in 1965 and incorporated as a nonprofit in 1991. In addition to serving noontime meals in ten community service centers around the county, Meals That Connect delivers meals to homebound seniors. The connections made at the community service centers decrease isolation and improve socialization among the senior community. More information on Meals That Connect, at

About Community Action Commission

Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County creates opportunities for families and individuals to achieve stability through its 22 health and human service programs, including Healthy Senior Lunch, Head Start, Weatherization and Energy Assistance, Family & Youth Services, and 2-1-1 Santa Barbara. CAC serves more than 10,000 people throughout the county each year. It also employs over 400 health, education and social service workers and is one of Santa Barbara County’s largest employers. Community Action Commission is a private non-profit agency that leverages support for Santa Barbara County residents through private funding as well as government contracts and grants. More information available at

CenCal Health Contact:

Nicolette Worley Marselian (805) 685-9525 ext,1993

Media Contact: Sheri Mobley (805) 845-5627, (213) 509-9816