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During National Nutrition Month, NYSOFA highlights statewide programs providing 22 million meals to older adults annually


Mon, Mar 4th 2024 11:40 am

Promoting health & independence

√ Since its inception in 1975, New York’s nutrition program has served more than 10 million older adults with over 1 billion meals, making it largest nutrition program in country

√ NYSOFA’s monthly nutrition education show, ‘What’s Cooking with NYSOFA,’ has gained nearly 2 million views on YouTube & Facebook as part of state, community-level SNAP-Ed NY program

Submitted by the New York State Office for the Aging

During National Nutrition Month, 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 overall health and wellness, particularly nutritional health for individuals ages 60 and over.

Importantly, these nutrition programs help promote healthy aging in place, fight nutritional deficiencies and associated chronic illnesses, and curb social isolation through congregate dining, grab-and-go meal programs, and home-delivered meals.

In 2023, New York’s nutrition program – the nation’s largest – provided over 22 million meals to more than 247,000 individuals. In fact, working with local offices for the aging and partners, New York has served 1,046,508,242 meals since 1975. For general information on these nutrition services, visit https://aging.ny.gov/march-meals.

NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said, “Food is medicine and good nutrition is not only the cornerstone of healthy aging, but it’s an important way to help prevent and manage chronic diseases. For many older adults, the home delivery of meals is a critical health and safety check, and the meal deliverer may be the only person that the older adult sees each week. These programs directly address the underlying causes of some of the most severe chronic diseases. They also provide vital connections for older adults who may otherwise experience social isolation, helping individuals maintain their independence and, in many cases, literally save lives.” 

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 meets the highest national standards and utilizes the expertise of registered dietitians (RDs) to certify that food meets these standards, combining funding from federal, state, local government, and volunteer contributions from recipients 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 almost 800 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. The average SNAP benefit for an older adult is approximately $200 per month, or $2,400 per year.

To access any of these vital programs, contact your local Office for the Aging using NYSOFA's directory, or call the NY Connects helpline at 1-800-342-9871. You can also find further program background and application information on NYSOFA’s nutrition assistance page and our video tutorial to apply on your own.

SNAP-Ed NY Digital Programs

The statewide SNAP-Ed NY program provides nutrition education and health promotion activities for older adults 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.

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 and YouTube the final Friday of every month at 1 p.m. The program reached 1 million views on YouTube and 980,000 views on Facebook during its most recent 2022-23 season. Read about the streaming success here.

To learn more and watch program archives, visit https://aging.ny.gov/snap-ed.

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.

Additional Resources

For more information, including National Nutrition Month social media resources, see NYSOFA’s March for Meals webpage.

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