During the pandemic, we recognized seniors as one of our most vulnerable populations, more susceptible to not just the virus, but two other conditions: food insecurity and isolation. Sadly, while the pandemic has let up for most of us, seniors are still dealing with issues that need attention. Chef Mario Reyes is director of culinary and innovation at TRIO Community Meals, part of Elior North America. TRIO’s mission is to reduce hunger and isolation in our country’s most underserved populations.
Prior to joining TRIO, Reyes worked as an R&D chef for Nestle, where, among other recipes, he developed iconic sauces that anyone who’s tasted a Lean Cuisine is probably familiar with. The same concept—sauces that do a lot—is at work for seniors now, with a variety of flavors easily imparted to meals that are delivered to seniors, also working with local agencies in order to serve those seniors who need nourishment most. Reyes addresses the loneliness/isolation part of the problem with virtual cooking classes, something that started during the pandemic and has continued as a great way to foster engagement. We talk about the logistics of this kind of operation and the human side, too.