SEBRING — The state has rolled out a new program to help seniors and this one involves some local restaurants.

Nu-Hope Elder Care Services is now able to provide restaurant meals to seniors impacted by the coronavirus through the Florida Restaurant Initiative. The program provides meals from local restaurants to seniors who have difficulty safely obtaining food/nutritious meals due to the pandemic.

Those who are at least 60 years of age, a resident of Highlands or Hardee County, and in need of food, can call Nu-Hope for more information. Highlands County residents should call 863-382-2134. Hardee County residents should call 863-773-2022.

There is no cost to participate. However, pre-registration and a brief assessment are required prior to starting this program.

Seniors who could use this program may be rurally isolated and live far from the grocery store; have difficulty finding food on grocery store shelves; be unable to safely stand in long, crowded lines; have financial issues, or have an illness or physical/cognitive challenges that make meal preparation difficult.

Laurie Murphy, resource development director for Nu-Hope, said it reached out to several restaurants and two in the Sebring area responded. Gator Shack and Palmano’s Pizzeria have partnered with Nu-Hope in the program. The restaurants will be offering one meal a day.

Gator Shack will be doing it six days a week. There is only pickup and it is from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

As to what people can eat, Gator Shack, for example, will have Cuban-style pork, black beans and rice, green beans and side salad on Tuesday and grilled pork chop, mashed potatoes, green beans and side salad on Saturday.

Palmano’s is planning meals five days a week. Pickup and delivery in the Sebring area are set from 2-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Its menu includes Chicken Fettucine Alfredo, garlic knot, side salad and fruit on Tuesday and lasagne with meat sauce, garlic knot, side salad and fruit on Wednesday.

Giovanni’s Main Street Kitchen in Wauchula is also participating. Pickup and delivery in Hardee County are available from 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The Florida Restaurant Initiative is made possible through a partnership with the Senior Connection Center, the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, as well as restaurants.