Nutrition Resources Available for Seniors

May 6, 2016

Nutrition Resources Available for Seniors

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The number of senior adults is expected to increase over the next decade. By 2040, there will be an estimated 79.7 million older adults. Food insecurity, as defined by the USDA, is “a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” Approximately 9 percent, or three million households with seniors aged 65 and older experienced food insecurity in 2014. The number of insecure seniors is expected to increase by 50% by 2025 when the youngest of the Baby Boom Generation reach age 60.

Food insecure seniors have an increased risk to develop chronic health conditions. Seniors with food insecurity are 53 percent more likely to report a heart attack and 40 percent more likely to report congestive heart failure. They are also more likely to experience depression and develop asthma.

Seniors with food insecurity are much more likely to experience malnutrition. When your body doesn’t get enough nutrients, it has greater trouble repairing body tissue, fighting off infection, and regulating processes such as breathing or the beating of your heart. To help reduce hunger and food insecurity, there are various programs available for elderly individuals.

Senior Nutrition Programs

Older Americans Act Nutrition Program (OAA NP)

Administered by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program serves 4 main purposes:

  • Reduce hunger and food insecurity among older individuals
  • Promote socialization of older individuals
  • Promote the health and well-being of older individuals
  • Delay adverse health condition for older individuals

The nutrition programs are funded in part by the Administration on Aging (AoA) and provide access to healthy meals, nutrition education, and nutrition counseling. These programs target adults ages 60 and above that have social and economic needs with a focus on:

  • Low-income older individuals
  • Minority older individuals
  • Older individuals in rural communities
  • Older individuals with limited English proficiency
  • Older individuals at risk of institutional care

Nutrition Services Incentive Program (NSIP)

The Nutrition Services Incentive Program provides grants to states, territories, and eligible tribal organizations to support the congregate and home-delivered nutrition programs by providing an incentive to serve more meals. Grants are given as cash, food, or a combination of the two.

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

The Child and Adult Care Food Program provides aid to child and adult day care institutions and family or group day cares for the wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons. Each day, 120,000 adults receive nutritious meals and snacks as part of the care they receive.

Senior citizens that are living in institutions are not eligible to participate in the program, and individuals cannot receive CACFP meals independent of a participating institution. To apply for the CACFP, contact your state agency.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program works to improve the health of low-income elderly persons at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA foods. State agencies store CSFP food and distribute it to public and nonprofit local agencies.

Local agencies determine the eligibility of applicants, distribute foods, and provide nutritional education. Local agencies also have the responsibility to provide referrals to other welfare, nutrition, and healthcare programs such as WIC, SNAP, Medicaid, and Medicare.

Seniors Farmers’ Markets Nutrition Program (SFMNP)

The Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides grants to states to provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible food at farmers markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs. The purpose of this is to provide fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables to low-income seniors. If you or your loved one is aged 60 or older and have limited income, you may be eligible for SFMNP.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps 28 million low-income people buy nutritious food each month and make healthy food choices within a limited budget. SNAP is the largest domestic hunger program. In order to qualify for SNAP, there are certain requirements that households must meet, and there are some special rules for households with disabled or elderly persons.

SNAP allows users to obtain an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to be able to purchase food or plants and seeds to grow food for your household to eat. SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase:

  • Nonfood items such as pet foods, soaps, paper products, cosmetics, grooming items and household supplies
  • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco
  • Vitamins and medicines
  • Hot food

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)

The Emergency Food Assistance Program is a Federal program that helps to supplement the diets of low-income Americans by providing them with emergency food assistance at no cost. The program provides food and funds to states to distribute to public and private nonprofit organizations.

To determine your eligibility for TEFAP, contact your state agency.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I've heard that eating certain foods can actually work to help prevent Alzheimer's. Is that true?

An emerging number of studies would suggest that eating certain foods could promote brain health, while others can be harmful. Current research is investigating whether fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with a low-fat diet can serve to protect the brain against Alzheimer’s. Though, regardless of your predisposition to Alzheimer’s, it’s still vastly beneficial to eat as best as you can throughout your golden years.

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