Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Food for Thought

According to the Atlanta Regional Commission (2011), access to fresh food decreases with income. This means that our lower-income neighborhoods have less access to the healthier foods needed to successfully age-in-place. Access to fast food was much greater than access to fresh food for both low and very low income subpopulations.

What does this mean for Senior Citizen Services? Our meals and wellness initiatives will continue to be vital for seniors who have low or very low incomes. Under the leadership of our Director of Operations Jerrell Saddler and Meals On Wheels Atlanta Manager Jamell Hamm, our pantry program “Mobile Meals Pantry” is supplementing canned goods with fresh fruits and vegetables. That means that the seniors who benefit from our pantry collaboration with Visiting Nurse Health System, Open Hand and The Atlanta Community Food Bank are now receiving fresh fruit and vegetables as well!

This also means that further brainstorming and partnering will be needed going forward to ensure that our nutrition via Meals On Wheels Atlanta gets to the right seniors when they really need it.

More than “being there” for our seniors, I believe that our education approach via our Neighborhood Senior Centers will be more and more critical as well. Rather than forcing education on our seniors, we utilize proven tools like Stanford’s Chronic Disease Self Management classes and Arthritis Self Management Classes. We also connect amazing providers like our fitness instructor with our seniors—this was our top ranked program of any senior center programs per our last survey.

I am more confident than ever that SCS can make a difference for lower-income seniors who do not have enough access they need to age-in-place successfully. I am also confident that SCS can convene other partners within the transportation arena to enable better access as well.

-- by Jeff Smythe, Executive Director

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