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May 02

Council on Aging’s Senior Dining Program Offers Food, Fellowship

Posted on May 2, 2018 at 12:46 pm by Dawn Corrigan

By Karen Thompson, Budget and Planning Manager

Everybody has heard of Meals-on-Wheels, but did you know there’s another nutritional program offered locally as well?

Senior Dining Program

It’s Senior Dining Program, a neighborhood-based program that serves meals at Westminster Village (pictured) and four other locations around the City. Intended for residents who are mobile enough to get out for lunch, Senior Dining Program affords residents who are 60 years and older the opportunity to share their midday meal with other adults. Hot, nutritionally-balanced meals are served. Meals are prepared fresh daily, contain one-third of the recommended daily nutritional allowance for adults, and comply with Florida Department of Elder Affairs Guidelines. Attendees also have an opportunity to join in arts and crafts projects, play games, and socialize.

The Pensacola Housing Division is pleased to work with our community partner, Council on Aging of West Florida, Inc. (COA), in administering the funding for this nutritional program on behalf of the City. The City of Pensacola has supported COA’s Senior Dining Sites and Meals-On-Wheels programs since 1974, with an investment of over $2.5 million through Fiscal Year 2017. This investment has provided well over half a million meals to elderly and disabled City residents using the City’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) public service dollars. According to John Clark, COA’s President/CEO, “The funds are used as a match to obtain a significant amount of other federal and state funds for the agency as well.”

The first home-delivered meal program in the United States began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in January 1954. At the request of the Philadelphia Health & Welfare Council, and funded by a grant from the Henrietta Tower Wurtz Foundation, Margaret Toy, a social worker in Philadelphia's Lighthouse Community Center, pioneered a program to provide nourishment that met the dietary needs of homebound seniors and other "shut-ins" who otherwise would have gone hungry. As is the case today, many participants were people who did not require hospitalization, but who simply needed a helping hand in order to maintain their independence. Most of the volunteers in the original program were high school students.

Numerous studies have shown that Meals-on-Wheels programs are effective in improving nutrition among the elderly. And they're cost effective, because allowing older adults to age in place is less expensive than nursing-home care. Programs of these types were envisioned by the Older Americans Act (OAA). Originally enacted in 1965, OAA supports a range of home and community-based services including meals-on-wheels and other nutrition programs, in-home services, transportation, legal services, elder abuse prevention, and caregiver support. These programs help seniors stay as independent as possible in their homes and communities. In addition, OAA services help seniors avoid hospitalization and nursing home care and, as a result, save federal and state funds that would otherwise be spent on such care. A nonfederal match is required for OAA funding.

If you’re 60 or older and interested in joining your neighbors and friends for a meal, the Senior Dining Program sites are:

 Bayview Senior Resource Center  2000 E Lloyd St
 E.S. Cobb Resource Center  601 E Mallory St
 Fricker Resource Center
 900 N F St
 Westminster Retirement Village  1700 N L St
 Gull Point Resource Center  7000 Spanish Trail Rd

For more information, contact COA’s Community Services Director Karen Barbee at