Creative Adaptation of the Year 2021


The local nonprofit Meals That Connect and its Executive Director Elias Nimeh were honored on May 21 by the Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens, Area Agency on Aging. The mission of Meals That Connect is to enhance health, restore dignity, support independence, and reduce isolation for every San Luis Obispo County resident in need – who is at least 60 years of age – by providing meaningful connections and free, hot, noon-time meals delivered to community dining sites or at home.

The 36th annual awards presentation celebrated Older Americans Month (May) with the theme “Communities of Strength”, recognizing the important role older adults play in fostering the connection and engagement that build strong, resilient communities. A new awards category – Creative Adaptation of the Year – was added for “the pandemic years” of 2020/21. Nimeh and Meals That Connect received this award for addressing the food insecurities and isolation experienced by the senior community due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The organization increased its weekly meal service from 3,000 meals to 5,000 meals a day, and added routes – from 38 to 52 – to support the demand, including the delivery of meals to seniors located in the most rural areas of the county.

Nimeh and Meals that Connect were nominated for the award by CenCal Health, the local Medi-Cal health plan. “Elias has brought selfless devotion to ensuring low-income seniors in San Luis Obispo County receive the opportunity to have hot and nutritious meals on a regular basis – a very much needed opportunity for many,” said Bob Freeman, CenCal Health CEO. “Low-income seniors make up a significant portion of CenCal Health’s membership in San Luis Obispo County. Therefore, we are both impressed and thankful for the work Elias does on a daily basis in service of our membership.”

Elias Nimeh dedicates his time to serving seniors in the county, addressing issues and barriers seniors experience, creating programs that are in alignment with his organization’s mission, vision, and values. Nimeh has worked in collaboration with Lemos Feed & Pet Supply, Community Action Partnership of SLO County’s Senior Health Screening Clinics, PathPoint, Grizzly Academy and the Los Osos Public Library to ensure other services for the organization’s seniors.

“I am grateful to live in SLO County where there is so much caring and generosity when the need arises,” said Nimeh. “The increase in meal services, which almost doubled, also created the need for more volunteers. I am so proud of my staff and all the volunteers for taking this challenge and doing whatever it takes to make sure the program continues its mission.”

At the May 21 virtual presentation hosted by the Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens, Area Agency on Aging, two other non-profits were also honored with the Creative Adaptation of the Year Award – Family Services Agency for its Isolated Seniors Project, and Hospice of Santa Barbara.

Through a variety of collaborations and alliances, Meals That Connect has met an unforeseen increase in demand. The nonprofit expects the need for hot meals to continue at a high rate due to the impact COVID-19 has had on the community. Additional information can be found at or by calling 805-541-3312.

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Media Contact: Elias Nimeh (805) 541-3312

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