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COVID-19 Brings Food Safety and Services for the elderly into sharp focus

The spread of COVID-19 across the globe has left no community untouched. It’s disproportionate effects on the elderly, however, have drawn much-needed attention to the special consideration these most vulnerable individuals require; not only in times of crisis, but on a permanent basis.

With nearly 50 years of catering experience – servicing a wide range of clients, from large factories to schools, hospitals and leisure resorts – Fedics (a division of Tsebo Solutions Group), knows this better than most.

Providing meals for dozens of retirement villages and aged care facilities across South Africa, they remain committed to providing nutritious, age-appropriate meals to the elderly throughout the national COVID-19 lockdown; and doing so in a way that enhances quality of life without putting them at risk of exposure.

With a firm focus on food safety, the organisation already insists on the most stringent hygiene measures in their food preparation, fully aware that the combination of old age, frail health and the side effects of many medications means that many residents already suffer from malnutrition and dehydration.

“Nutritional quality and the standard of food safety in our offering remain our highest priorities”, said Wynand Louw, CEO of Tsebo Solutions Group. “We will continue to protect the elderly communities we serve, both in our products and in our services. We want to bring a measure of comfort to our elderly communities in a time that is particularly lonely and anxious for these high-risk individuals.”

As we enter the chilly winter months in South Africa under lockdown, Fedics has added a vitamin C-enriched juice to their meal deliveries in order to support ageing immune systems, as well as adding essential groceries like bread, milk, washing powder (and, naturally, the odd guilty snack) to their offering for those self-isolating in their cottages.

“So many retirees get very little social interaction to begin with”, says Annelize Zeelie, Registered Dietitian for Fedics’ Inland operations. “The lockdown has proven to be particularly isolating, with no visitors allowed, and many residents not leaving their cottages to visit local shops or even to dine together”.

Malnutrition, which Zeelie says affects as many as 50% of residents in aged-care facilities, is known to severely compromise the immune system and leave the elderly more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections. In addition, many require highly specialised therapeutic diets that are calorie-dense and cater to personal health issues – lactose intolerance, diabetes, or difficulty chewing and swallowing, for example.

With many homes for the elderly enforcing social distancing in their dining rooms or closing communal areas altogether, having access to individually packaged meals that take special dietary requirements into account is more important than ever – but so too is the social interaction that these meals represent.

“Our delivery personnel are well-versed in food hygiene, but are taking extra precautions to be able to continue serving with the personalised attention our clients have come to expect”, said Zeelie. “We take special care to adhere to social distancing guidelines as set out by government and wear personal protective equipment during all deliveries for an added layer of protection”.

We have and always will focus on good nutrition as we understand the importance of a balanced diet and how important it is to, especially now, focus on the nutritional needs of our most vulnerable populations. For many aged care residents, a good meal is the highlight of the day. Fedics remains committed to improving quality of life through the joy of good food.

View more information on how Tsebo can support your business during these trying times.