PCA delivers: 50 years of serving older Philadelphians

Alicia Colombo

By Jay Nachman


Shirley Murphy, 91, and Nellie Harris, 101, used to make mouthwatering meals in their kitchens. But over time their stoves have gone cold. The two Philadelphia residents receive meals delivered to their homes by PCA, as part of the agency’s more than 30 programs to support aging in place.

Harris, who lives in North Philadelphia and now has limited mobility, is proud of her work during World War II, where she assembled artillery at the Frankford Arsenal. She was an actual “Rosie the Riveter.” During wartime, the moniker Rosie the Riveter” portrayed a strong, confident female worker flexing her muscle with the words emblazoned above: “We Can Do It.” The Rosies were bold, breaking down barriers and proving, without a doubt, that women could accomplish the same tasks as men.

“Many people couldn’t handle that stuff,” she added. “I always liked to do difficult things as a job.”

Harris was also active in her church and at her local senior center, where she taught sewing.

“I cooked all the time. I was a good cook. I cooked everything, like my mother cooked everything,” said Harris, who raised a son and has four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

At one time, she received in-home care from PCA. These personalized services, which are coordinated by trained care managers, provide long-term support to help older adults remain safe in their homes.

Now that Harris is unable to cook as often as she used to, she relies on meals from PCA to help keep her nourished. Each week, PCA hand delivers more than 23,000 meals to the homes of older Philadelphians. The options include breakfast, lunch and dinner, chosen from a healthy menu. All meals provided by PCA are designed by a registered dietician to meet one-third of the recommended dietary allowance for older adults, meet the dietary guidelines for Americans and are moderately low in fat and sodium. Each meal includes complements, such as milk, fruit, bread and dessert.

“The meals are very good,” Harris said about the seven frozen meals she receives weekly from PCA.

Meals support autonomy
Shirley Murphy worked for paper box manufacturer Louis Sherman & Co. from 1950 to 1998, when she retired after nearly half a century of service. She was the shop steward and the recording secretary for the union.

Now, due to her limited mobility, Murphy has difficulty cooking for herself. “I can’t stand on my legs to cook anymore,” she explained.

She raised two daughters and prided herself in making delicious meals every day. You name it, she could make it. Her specialties included fried chicken, steak, catfish, spaghetti, potato salad and greens. She would usually top off those hearty meals with a delicious, homemade pineapple upside-down cake.

“She was considered a master chef in our kitchen for many years.People flocked to her house to enjoy her meals,” said Murphy’s daughter, Peythia Stubbs.

Now, PCA helps Murphy maintain her independence. “She still loves food and enjoys dining,” Stubbs said. “Of course, our family members provide her with home-cooked meals to help supplement the weekly meals that are being delivered by PCA.”


Jay Nachman is a freelance writer in Philadelphia who tells stories for a variety of clients.

Categories: Food Milestones eNews News about PCA

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