Inside your county
Age no obstacle to good nutrition
How does apricot pork loin, scalloped potatoes, brussel sprouts and cherry pie sound like for lunch? Maybe you prefer something lighter? How about egg salad sandwich, macaroni salad, tomato and cucumber salad and a cream puff? This is just an example of the meals offered by Livingston County’s Senior Nutrition Program.
Good nutrition is especially important to good health as we grow older yet often times growing older is the biggest obstacle to good nutrition. For 35 years the Senior Nutrition Program has offered individuals, who are at least 60 years old, a hot, nutritious and delicious meal in the good company of others. For some elderly homebound persons, it can be delivered right to your door.
The Livingston County Board of Supervisors sponsors the Senior Nutrition Program with funding from the federal, State and county governments as well as the contributions of some participants, which ranges around $2 per meal per person.
The program is collaborating with the Federal Administration on the Aging for the 40th anniversary of the Federal Older Americans Act nutrition program that ensures that millions of older adults have access to the nutritious food needed to stay healthy and decrease their risk of disability.
Livingston County has been providing this service to its older residents through its congregate and home delivered meal programs, said Jessica Wilkins, coordinator of the Senior Nutrition Program.
The program provides about 300 meals a day, averaging about 65,000 meals a year to older individuals in the county. Since it began in 1977, the Senior Nutrition Program has served approximately 1.6 million meals in Livingston County.
“The Senior Nutrition Program has been helping older adults remain independent, safe and healthy in their own homes,” Wilkins commented.
She collaborates with Registered Dietician Susan Schell to develop an appealing menu that provides a well balanced meal that meets one-third of an adult recommended daily allowance of nutrients. The menu changes three times a year.
The food is prepared at the Livingston County Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation and is distributed to three dining sites throughout the county.
Congregate dining sites exist in Avon, Mount Morris and Dansville and provide not only a delicious, hot lunch to participants, but it also provides the much needed socialization and fellowship that older adults once enjoyed when they were younger and raising their families, but now are lacking.
Socialization is so important to the aging population, Wilkins pointed out. The congregate dining sites also provide aging adults with important educational information about the many resources available to them in Livingston County.
While enjoying friendship and a hot lunch, participants may learn about important health care issues with Medicare, Medicaid or with prescription drug programs. Wilkins or Schell may share important nutrition information with them. They may have an opportunity to apply for HEAP or any number of programs available through the Livingston County Office for the Aging. Livingston Area Transportation Services provides transportation for senior citizens to and from the dining sites.
For the elderly individuals who are not physically or psychology able to leave their homes and come to a congregate dining site, the noon meal can be delivered to their homes. Sometimes meals are needed for an individual who is recuperating at home and other times it’s for an extended period of time, helping an elderly resident to remain in their home for as long as possible.
There are seven routes that couriers cover every day, bringing a hot meal to those who are homebound. Five of the routes are funded by the county and two of them are done every day by volunteers. The couriers drive approximately 60 to 115 miles every weekday, delivering a hot noon meal to an anxiously waiting aging resident. No eligible applicant is turned away, Wilkin said.
“We often hear from family members that it’s so much more than just a meal. It’s a friendly face stopping in during the day,” Wilkins commented.
In addition to weekday meals, the Senior Nutrition Program coordinates with FoodLink to provide shelf-stable groceries to the home delivery clients four times a year. In addition, the program participates in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides a $20 voucher booklet to participants, for fresh, locally grown produce from area farmers.
The Senior Nutrition Program provides a wonderful volunteer experience to anyone desiring to serve this special population of residents. Volunteers are needed to help serve meals at the congregate dining sites, delivering meals and more.
If you are looking for a local agency or organization to donate your money and/or time to, consider the Senior Nutrition Program.
“In a day and age when funding is tight, I really try to utilize volunteers. Livingston County has a lot of people willing to give of themselves,” commented Wilkin.
For more information about the Senior Nutrition Program and how you can participate, call the Livingston County Office for the Aging at 243-7520.