Senior Nutrition Programs

You often hear people complain about having to go grocery shopping but for some, particularly seniors on a fixed income, the idea of being able to fill a shopping cart can seem like a luxury. Across America, many seniors face food insecurity and live with the reality or fear of hunger and malnutrition.

The Older American’s Act (OAA) helps fund several nutrition programs to help address this growing problem. Within Richland County, OAA funds help provide three major nutrition programs:

Home Delivered Meals

Congregate Meals

Commodity Supplemental Food Program

Each of these programs has their own guidelines and requirements that Richland County must adhere to in order to receive these helping funds. It is important to note that none of these programs are considered “Entitlement Programs” which means there is a limited amount of money available for them each year.

Home Delivered Meals

The Home Delivered Meal program is commonly referred to as “Meals on Wheels”. It is one of the COA’s most asked about programs but it also has the most stringent qualifications. Home Delivered Meals is the most expensive program to provide and maintain so it is reserved for those who have few or no other options.

To be eligible for Home Delivered Meals you need a referral from your physician stating that you are “homebound”, over 60 years of age and are in danger of not receiving proper nutrition. Once qualified for the program, you will receive a hot meal delivered to your home five days/week within Sidney. If you reside outside City limits, you will receive nutritionally balanced and flash frozen meals delivered in bulk once/month. There are a limited number of spots in the program so preference is given to those who are the most economically challenged.

Congregate Meals

For those who don’t qualify for Home Delivered meals, Congregate Meals are a great alternative and provide even more care for your body. Just as nutrition is important for your physical health, socialization is important for your mental health and well-being.

Congregate meals are offered at four different locations throughout Richland County and are a great way to share a home-cooked meal with friends. The meal schedule is as follows:

Monday: Fairview Senior Center at 11:30 a.m.

Tuesday: Sidney Senior Center at 11:30 a.m. and Fox Lake Senior Center at noon.

Wednesday: Fairview Senior Center at 11:30 a.m.

Thursday: Savage Senior Center at noon

Friday: Sidney Senior Center at 11:30 a.m.

To be eligible for Congregate meals you need only be at least 60 years old or the caregiver or spouse of someone 60 or older.

There is no charge for either meal program, however there is a suggested donation of $5/meal. All donations go straight back into the program to ensure its longevity but no one will ever be turned away or lose a service due to an inability to donate.

Commodity Supplement Food Program (CSFP)

The Meal programs are great but what do seniors do about their food at home? The CSFP program can help. As suggested by its name, the program isn’t meant to replace grocery shopping but rather supplement the gaps in your pantry.

Due to rules within the program, most CSFP locations need to prepackage their food and recipients must take whatever is in their package. Richland County’s program is unique in that we are fortunate enough to make available all the products from the program so individuals can choose what will be the most beneficial to them

Products in the program include a selection of canned fruits and juices, meats and proteins, cereals, vegetables, and dairy products. Recipients can choose as many items from each category (up to the category limit) that they will use or none at all. Eligibility into the CSFP program is based on income. Richland County is given a specific number of clients it can accept; others are placed on the waiting list and given spots as they become available.

Nutrition is the key to a healthy body and these programs are crucial to helping many seniors maintain their physical and mental health. If you’d like to learn more about any of them, call the Richland County Commission on Aging at (406) 433-3701 or visit its website at http://www.seniors.richland.org.

 

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