A Silver Platter volunteer receives meals to be delivered to senior diners.

By Lily Belcher

Hillsborough County’s Department of Aging Services has partnered with local restaurants and food trucks to deliver nutritious, restaurant-quality meals for senior citizens through the Silver Platter program in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Silver Platter program was initiated by state agencies and is financially supported by the Families First Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide meals to seniors who have previously enrolled in the Department of Aging Services’ lunch program.

The initiative was designed to support seniors who are sheltering in place because of the coronavirus and to support local restaurants and food trucks which were economically impacted by the pandemic. The county’s dietitians have worked with participating restaurants to create meals that meet strict senior diet guidelines and other restrictions recipients might have.

“Seniors who live alone in areas that are scarcely populated with restaurants and who are sheltering in place to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19 were selected first,” said Nutrition and Wellness Manager Mary Jo McKay.

Since its inception in May, more than 600 seniors in the Hillsborough area have received weekly hot Silver Platter dinners through a generous program that is set to expire in September unless additional funding is received. Meals have come from restaurants including Mission BBQ and Fred’s Market as well as 12 food trucks.

A weekly restaurant-quality meal can be enough to put a smile on the faces of seniors who are living with seemingly endless periods of isolation. The coronavirus has prevented these seniors’ families and friends from visiting because of the precautionary measures taken to ensure the health of the vulnerable citizens living in senior homes.

“Senior who live alone and receive the dinner meals are excited to have someone stop by, if only for a moment,” said McKay. “Several have also stated they enjoy being a part of something that’s helping local businesses.”

Although Silver Platter is not currently accepting new restaurants or food trucks, those businesses interested in participating can call 853-1067 to be added to the waiting list. To apply for Hillsborough County’s senior programs, apply online at hillsboroughcounty.org.

For more information, contact Hillsborough County Community Relations Coordinator Todd Pratt at prattt@hillsboroughcounty.org.