Community canteen nourishes rural seniors, promotes elderly care

Xinhua, August 07, 2023
Adjust font size:

Roughly at 11 a.m., a rural community canteen in east China's Zhejiang Province begins to hum with elderly locals sitting and chatting while waiting for lunch.

"It is convenient, and my children feel assured that we have decent meals here," said Luo Quanxin, a 77-year-old villager in Fengyi Community, Zhuji City. Luo's children work in other cities and do not live with him and his wife, who suffers from Alzheimer's. The couple have had lunch here almost everyday since the canteen opened in May last year.

The welfare canteen is dedicated to providing affordable and nutritious meals to elderly villagers, particularly empty-nesters like Luo and those with disabilities.

A set lunch served at the canteen is priced at 4 yuan (roughly 56 U.S. cents) to 10 yuan at most, depending on the resident's age. Each lunch comprises one meat dish, three vegetable dishes, rice, and soup.

The meals are tailored to the elderly. Hu Duping, the canteen's chef, said considering that old people are prone to conditions like hypertension and hyperglycemia, seasonings like salt and sugar are used in minimum amounts.

He also participated in training programs organized by local governments to learn about diet and nutrition for old people and how to ensure fire safety and food hygiene.

As China's population ages, community-based welfare canteens catering to the elderly have popped up in recent years. Statistics show that such canteen services had been available at more than 70 percent of villages and communities in Zhejiang, an affluent province with high-degree population aging, by the end of June.

Villages yet to establish their own welfare canteens are not left behind. For instance, Fengyi Community's canteen offers around 30 takeaway meals each day for elders at nearby villages. Villagers with disabilities can also order takeaways.

The whole Zhuji city has had 213 welfare canteens to serve more than 12,000 old people.

Welfare canteens are part of Chinese authorities' efforts to promote community-based elderly care services, especially for elderly people who live alone and in rural areas.

Now Fengyi Community plans to open two takeaway stations within the community and add facilities in the canteen "for the elderly to entertain themselves."

"Villagers who come to the canteen early can sing and dance and also amuse themselves after the meal," said Guo.