New York’s nutrition program for older adults – the nation’s largest – provided more than 21 million meals in 2022, supporting health, social engagement & disease prevention
Submitted by the New York State Office for the Aging
For National Nutrition Month in March, the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) reminds older New Yorkers and their families of the many state and local programs available to support nutritional health for individuals ages 60 and over.
In 2022, New York’s nutrition program for older adults – the nation’s largest – provided over 21 million meals to more than 245,000 older adults, supporting physical health and well-being while combatting social isolation.
NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said, "Food is medicine. In fact, studies suggest that up to 90% of older adults who are hospitalized in the U.S. have some prevalence of malnutrition. New York's local offices for the aging, their partners, and the cadre of paid staff and volunteers are critical in addressing this public health need. They do a tremendous job.”
Nutrition Programs Available to Older Adults
NYSOFA administers the state’s nutrition program for older adults in partnership with 59 county-based Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and their local partners. The program utilizes the expertise of registered dietitians (RDs) to certify that food meets the highest national standards, combining funding from federal, state and local government sources into a single, comprehensive, statewide program.
Services are provided by AAAs and their community partners in every county of the state. Nutrition services include congregate and home-delivered meals, nutrition education and counseling, as well as referrals to additional supports and benefit programs.
Congregate meals are provided at community dining sites throughout New York. Home-delivered meals are for individuals unable to shop and prepare meals and who don’t have assistance doing so. Anyone over 60 can access congregate meals, and those needing a meal at home have to meet eligibility criteria.
Income-based nutrition assistance is also available for older adults, including help paying for food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, which provides coupons to buy locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers’ markets.
To access any of these programs, contact the local Office for the Aging using NYSOFA's directory, or call the NY Connects helpline at 1-800-342-9871. Find more program background and application information on NYSOFA’s nutrition assistance page.
SNAP Video Tutorial
In 2022, New York state streamlined the SNAP enrollment process to make it easier for older adults to participate, including a shorter SNAP application and less frequent recertification periods (every 36 months instead of 24).
To outline these important changes, NYSOFA produced a video with tips to help people complete the new application process.
SNAP-Ed NY Digital Programs
The statewide SNAP-Ed NY program reaches over 20,000 low-income older adults with nutrition education and health promotion activities to support healthy eating. NYSOFA provides SNAP-Ed programs to older adults at the statewide and regional levels in partnership with the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. These programs are overseen by a team of registered dietitians and experts who specialize in nutrition for older adults.
Everyone can enjoy and benefit from NYSOFA’s popular SNAP-Ed NY programming on social media:
•"Ask the Experts: Nutrition Edition" is a monthly, interactive conversation with nutrition experts that streams live on Facebook the second Friday of every month at 1 p.m. The program, led by NYSOFA's SNAP-Ed team, features guests discussing a range of topics at the intersection of health and nutrition, answering questions live through the Facebook chat.
•NYSOFA’s monthly SNAP-Ed NY cooking demonstration on Facebook and YouTube features delicious, nutritious, budget-friendly meals. The program also includes information about dietary guidelines, meal planning, portion sizes, and much more for older adults. “What’s Cooking with NYSOFA” streams on Facebook the final Friday of every month at 1 p.m.
To learn more and watch program archives, visit: https://aging.ny.gov/snap-ed.