Three times per week, Anna Maria is driven to her dialysis treatments. Three times per week she knows she’ll have an upset stomach while on the machines so skips breakfast. And three times per week she reaches for a Meals on Wheels prepared meal as soon as she gets home. “It’s just so nice to know that I have a healthy meal waiting for me the minute I walk in the door,” she says. “I get so hungry!” At 72 years old not even 5 feet tall, Anna Maria still has a healthy appetite and looks forward to her favorite meals delivered by Meals on Wheels: Chicken Cordon Bleu and Spaghetti and Meatballs.

In June of 2018, Anna Maria saw a commercial for Meals on Wheels on television and called us for help. Her son, who had been living with her and helping to take care of her, had passed away and she needed extra support. Anna Maria is a Promise Zone client – a Meals on Wheels program funded by the City of San Diego which strives to unite private and public sector organizations with more than 80,000 residents in areas of Central San Diego to improve overall quality of life in the community. Because of her need for dialysis, her limited mobility, and the lack of accessibility to local grocery stores and healthy meal choices around her home, she was a perfect fit for a program designed to help seniors live independently.

Anna Maria lives in a home that has been in her family since 1931 when her dad’s aunt originally purchased it. Her dad, one of 15 siblings, had been a boxer in the Navy and needed to find a new home after commercial development in National City caused him to lose his Navy housing. Anna Maria’s dad moved the entire family into the modest home in 1954 and Anna Maria has lived there ever since.

Prior to experiencing her current health issues, Anna Maria coordinated intake for prisoners’ belongings for the Sheriff’s Department. She catalogued inmates’ personal items and checked them in and out of the jail, ensuring they left with exactly what they came in with. For more than 20 years Anna Maria was able to work to support her family, but her diabetes has limited her ability to stand too long and now it’s time for her to be taken care of.

Anna Maria also has trouble with her vision. Although she was once an avid reader, she is now grateful for the help that our Care Navigator has provided in helping her fill out paperwork. She is also especially touched when her meal delivery volunteers arrive in military uniforms as it reminds her of her grandson who is currently serving in Afghanistan.

Anna Maria is a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother many times over and would like to continue meeting the newest members of her family – including the two newest great-grandkids who are due this Fall. Her health is a priority and she is grateful for the healthy meal choices provided by Meals on Wheels. She says regarding her healthy meal choices, while knocking wood, “I haven’t been in the hospital for a very long time!”


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