Elf Grove

Matty the Giant Elf gets ready to deliver meals to local seniors as part of the Great Plates Delivered program. He partnered with Cafe Elk Grove to bring some Christmas cheer.

While COVID-19 cases rise in the Sacramento region, a few Elk Grove restaurants continued preparing and delivering meals to local, housebound seniors and other at-risk residents who cannot leave their homes during the holiday season.

They are participating in Great Plates Delivered, a program that’s mainly funded by the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The city of Elk Grove staff has operated this program locally since May and worked with 20 restaurants that are then reimbursed for their services.

As of Dec. 11, Great Plates Delivered more than 171,100 meals to 687 Elk Grove seniors since the program started, city spokesperson Kristyn Laurence said. She noted that $3.3 million has been invested through the program. Participating restaurants included the Brick House, Jamie’s Café, and Pho Bistro.

Matty the Giant Elf, a towering entertainer who describes himself as being “four foot, 34,” helped the Café Elk Grove staff deliver meals, including chicken fricassee, to seniors during the morning of Dec. 15. He wore his full elf regalia for them, and he offered to take an “elfie” or a smartphone photograph with them.

“It’s just spreading Christmas cheer,” Matty said.

He performed at the NeighborGOOD market gathering outside the city’s District56 center early this month and connected with that facility’s restaurant, Café Elk Grove.

That business opened just a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic caused the city to shut down public access to the District56 building. The café stayed in business by offering pickup orders and joining the Great Plates Delivered program.

“We’ve never really been able to open up since, especially since we’re in a government building, and they have stricter regulations than the outside public,” co-owner Jesse Hoover said. “We’re hoping to reopen again one day.”

On Dec. 15, his restaurant prepared more than 60 meals. Co-owner Yolanda Garcia said that Great Plates Delivered was originally set to expire in Elk Grove this June.

“But it’s still running, we’re so fortunate about that,” she said.

Before his delivery, Matty mentioned that he practiced social distancing in his act this year by having “snowball fights” with cotton balls, hosting “Rudolph” ring toss games, and handing out hand sanitizer bottles as gifts.

“I was always in Midtown (Sacramento), and now I have ‘Elf Grove,’” he said.

Elk Grove’s Great Plates Delivered program is currently planned to last through Jan. 7. Its service is still available to seniors who are ages 65 or older. The program is also open to residents, ages 60-64, who are either considered to be high-risk for COVID-19 infection, have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Eligible recipients must also earn less than $74,940 a year if they’re single, or $101,460 if they are a part of a two-person household.

For more information on the Great Plates Delivered program, call the city’s hotline, (916) 627-3331 or email greatplates@elkgrovecity.org.