Message from the Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee
National Nutrition Month – Celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program
As part of National Nutrition Month, I join the national aging services network in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Older Americans Act (OAA) Nutrition Program. In communities across the country, older adults join friends at a congregate site to enjoy well balanced meals, while homebound seniors are able to receive a meal delivered to their home.
Millions of older adults suffer from hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity. For many, the meal they receive from the OAA Nutrition Program is their only meal of the day. Hunger does not discriminate; it targets individuals of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socio-economic levels. In 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture found that about 4.6 million older adults experienced some form of food insecurity. In 2010, a survey by the Administration on Aging (AoA) of program participants found that twelve percent of home delivered meals recipients and six percent of congregate meal participants had to choose between buying food and paying for their rent or utilities.
Since the program’s implementation in 1972, eight billion meals have been served to older Americans, helping them to eat more healthfully and allowing them to remain active in their homes and communities. The OAA Nutrition Program provides the opportunity for individuals to socialize with their friends, volunteer to help others, check on their neighbors to see if they are okay. In fiscal year 2010, over 240 million meals were served to nearly 2.5 million older adults to help them maintain their health and reduce their risk of disability. The meals and related nutrition services are an integral part of a broader home and community based services network funded by federal, state, and local resources that helps keep loved ones at home and helps to avoid more costly and restrictive institutional settings.
The following story exemplifies what this program means to participants and their family members.
Dear Nutrition Center: I wish to thank you for being there, caring and cooking a wholesome meal, not only for my mother, but other elderly people as well. My mother is 91, lives alone and has very poor eyesight. It is satisfying to me that this program is such as she is picked up each noon, and taken to the center for a wholesome meal and a social hour with friends and neighbors. This gives her a time away from home and breaks up her day. It also means someone is checking up on her each day and that relieves my mind knowing someone will be knocking on her door and be of help if needed.
The Administration on Aging is grateful to its many partners around the country whose dedication and hard work help make this program a success. I encourage you to join us on August 23rd, 2012 in Washington, DC for “Perspectives on Nutrition and Aging: A National Summit” sponsored by the AoA-Meals on Wheels Association of America National Resource Center on Aging as we discuss how to implement a nutrition program that continues to be successful in the years ahead.