Meal service delivers taste, while helping seniors maintain their independence

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 5/12/17

From national mail-order services to local small-scale delivery to kitchens where patrons pay to assemble a month's worth of meals to stock their freezers, there's no shortage of ways to shortcut …

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Meal service delivers taste, while helping seniors maintain their independence

Posted

From national mail-order services to local small-scale delivery to kitchens where patrons pay to assemble a month's worth of meals to stock their freezers, there's no shortage of ways to shortcut your way to a great, home-served meal.

But Mary Hughes, who operates Savory Fare out of Hope & Main, Warren's food businesses incubator, has tailored her services to the needs of an important niche market: seniors.

A "senior" herself, Mary and her husband have discussed their desire stay in their own home until a ripe old age. It's a fairly universal goal among seniors, but for some, nutrition is an ongoing challenge. Preparation of a good, well-balanced meal can be difficult—particularly for a widow or widower who was not the primary family cook—and shopping for quality fresh ingredients on a regular basis can be a formidable obstacle when mobility problems are added to the mix.

Savory Fare is new, but Mary is certainly not new to the industry. With a background in food and nutrition and public health, Mary served for years as the Rhode Island state WIC nutritionist. For the past decade she worked as a personal chef, until she was inspired by a friend's involvement in The Providence Village, a non-profit organization formed and directed by members of the community, in order to provide services and programs that will enable seniors to live rich, full lives in their own homes and neighborhoods, by providing a single access point, via telephone or website, to a growing network of mutually supportive services and social opportunities made possible by a large pool of members and volunteers and a small paid staff. The Providence Village is based on the model of the Beacon Hill Village, which was developed in Boston 15 years ago when a group of seniors decided to create an alternative to a retirement home.

The day we met, Mary and Rosa Munoz, Savory Fare's kitchen manager, were preparing shrimp kabobs with garlic and a strawberry spinach salad. Some of the meals they prepare are best delivered and served the day they are prepared, but many are ready to freeze, ensuring customers can always have a nutritious meal close at hand.

Price points vary from an inexpensive mac and cheese to a more elegant cod en papillote. Everything is available as a single serving; most can be reheated in a microwave. Customers will typically order a week's worth of food at a time, from a menu that changes with the seasons. Some of their most popular offerings include chicken pot pie, crab cakes, and meatloaf.

"It's all about flavor and taste," said Mary. "That's always been my goal, as a personal chef, and with Savory Fare. When you have easy access to a delicious meal, you have a much better sense of well-being."

Mary gives a tremendous amount of credit to Hope & Main, which she discovered serendipitously through a Social Enterprise Greenhouse Food Company Incubator last spring. "We get a wonderful response from potential clients at the Meet Your Maker market every month," she said.

Savory Fare is not just for seniors—she has provided meals to young professionals and new parents, as well as holiday menus for clients who want to continue hosting their families, but without the hours and hours of prep work necessary to pull off a Christmas or Passover meal. Right now, she is focused on reaching out to the people who need her most, either seniors or caregivers and children who are concerned about their loved ones and want them eating well at home.

Savory Fare has a website where you can view and order from the seasonal menu at savoryfareinc.com. Mary can be reached at Mary@savoryfareinc.com, or call her at 401/454-4955.

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