Ecns wire

Over 1,000 canteens for elderly built across Zibo

2023-05-15 Editor : Zhang Dongfang ECNS App Download

(ECNS) -- Zibo, which has gone viral on Chinese social media for its local barbecue specialty, has built more than 1,000 canteens for the elderly across the city, serving over 300,000 senior customers.

About 85,000 old people are scattered across Yiyuan County of Zibo, which is located in the Yimeng Mountains with inconvenient transportation. In Jijiayu Village, most children move away for work and can’t take care of their elderly parents.

In 2022, the local government decided to open public canteens for the elderly in each village.

Wang Zhengyi, over 80 years old, lives alone and often eat in the village’s canteen. “If you cook less, it is a waste of time, but if you cook more, you can’t finish it and the food may spoil. It is better to eat inthe canteen,” said Wang.

The local government gives subsidies to the group considering their financial ability. Those aged 60 to 69 need to pay two yuan per meal (about $0.29), people aged 70 to 79 pay one yuan, and people over 80 years old can enjoy free meals.

At present, Yiyuan County has built 244 canteens for the elderly and 138 food service stations, covering all 446 villages in the county.

The old people gather at these canteens every day, chatting and enjoying entertainment activities. The canteens not only solve the problem of feeding the elderly, but also help them beat loneliness.

“The left-behind elderly are quite bored at home, so they come here to have fun, and the cafeteria serves meals on time. Their children don’t need to worry about their parents although they are not at home,” said Liu Xunchang, a villager.

According to Dong Yulei, deputy director of Zibo Civil Affairs Bureau, Shandong Province, said the fund supporting the canteens comes from government, villages, and families.

In Jijiayu Village, there are about 150 elderly people who eat in the canteen every day. The annual meal cost for the elderly surpassed 300,000 yuan (about $ 43,161.75). Based on current subsidy policies, the village needs to invest more than 100,000 yuan to subsidize the canteen each year.

In order to lower operating costs, each elderly canteen in Yiyuan County has two to three public welfare posts, and the rest of the staff are all villager volunteers.

Huantai County, Zibo, has piloted the mode of credit points, which allows volunteers who serve the canteens to exchange prizes.

Zibo has also issued policies to encourage professional elderly care institutions to provide day care and health management based on the canteens.

For example, in Huantai County, some villages have integrated elerly care services with the canteens. The elderly who need care services including day care and health assistance should pay about 900 yuan every month and can have meals in the canteens. 

Netizens commented that in addition to canteens, some villages provided the elderly with free apartments, free haircuts, and free transportation such as cross-district buses.


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