The Healthy Meal Program: A food insecurity screening and referral program for urban dwelling older adults

Ana F Diallo, Katherine Falls, Krista Hicks, Ethlyn McQueen Gibson, Rawan Obaid, Patricia Slattum, Faika Zanjani, Elvin Price, Pamela Parsons
Public Health Nursing 2020 August 3

OBJECTIVE: To describe the Healthy Meal Program (HMP), a community-academic partnership that aims to address the food insecurity and social isolation in older adults living in an urban setting.

PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION: Low-income older adults were screened for food insecurity and social isolation. A partnership with the food bank and a farm-based organization helped provide a weekly congregate or home-delivered meal, pilot a cooking class, and offer a mobile market selling fresh vegetables at discounted prices.

PROGRAM EVALUATION: Overall, 339 individuals agreed to participate in the screening process. Sixty-eight percent (n = 230) screened positive for food insecurity and 41% (n = 139) screened positive for social isolation. Among individuals who were food insecure, 159 were referred to a food commodity program, 31 to meals on wheels, 23 to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, and 28 to emergency food pantries. The mobile market served 75 participants weekly and 15 individuals took part in cooking classes.

CONCLUSIONS: Screening for food insecurity and social isolation in the HMP helped to assess the prevalence of these social determinants of health in low-income older adults. Weekly congregate meals, home visits, and group cooking classes were initiatives taken to decrease the impact of food insecurity and social isolation in this vulnerable population.

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