Meal delivery and preparation has become a popular service over the past several years. The convenience and time saved by having someone deliver fresh meals to your door is an attractive option for those with busy lives, or those who simply don’t feel like cooking.
Chefs for Seniors tackles the meal preparation service from a different angle, targeting the senior market in a unique way. Not only does the company prepare nutritious meals for seniors, but it does so from the comfort of their own homes, while providing an experience of companionship that has taken on a new meaning in the often isolating reality of a COVID-19-world.
During a home visit, Chefs for Seniors’ chefs will prepare 10-12 individually-packaged servings of custom meals for the week. The exact number of servings can be adjusted based on the meals ordered, which include standard, custom and non-standard service plans, ranging from a weekly menu rotation, to customized menus for specific dietary needs. The chefs bring their own cooking equipment, and once the meals are cooked, they clean up the kitchen and are on their way.
“[The chefs] are usually in the house for about two hours,” says Seth Lefberg, franchise owner of Monroe-based Chefs for Seniors, Central New Jersey. “We are having a great time while we [prepare the meals]. We chat with the seniors about things like the news and TV shows while they watch us cook. It is a really fun experience.”
The Central Jersey franchise covers Somerset, Monmouth, Middlesex, Mercer and Ocean counties.
Chefs for Seniors was originally founded in 2013 by the father and son duo of Barrett and Nathan Allman in Madison, Wisconsin, after they were inspired by the needs of an elderly family member. Lefberg’s decision to begin a franchise a few years later was inspired by a similar experience of being a caretaker to his father.
Lefberg explains that all chefs wear masks and gloves, do temperature checks, and follow strict sanitation protocols in order to protect from COVID-19.
“We had an influx of clients at the beginning of the pandemic from those who saw the benefit of not having to go to the grocery store,” Lefberg says. “And, while we did our normal services, we also told our clients that we would buy them things like toilet paper, soap and toothpaste so that we could assume some of the exposure risk for them and they didn’t have to leave their home to shop.
“Especially during COVID-19, seniors are going through massive isolation right now,” Lefberg adds. “We are able to visit a senior’s house once a week, have fun, and talk. What we are doing is a lot more than just cooking. We are trying to provide more than just food for them.”
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