Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2016

Abstract

This study provides a formative evaluation of the Older Americans Act (OAA) Senior Nutrition Program, Peace Meal. Peace Meal provides home delivered and congregate meals for older adults in 14 counties in east central Illinois. The East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging (ECIAAA) is a funding source for Peace Meal and advocates that the OAA Senior Nutrition Program help older adults have improved food security and reduced social isolation. Key informant interviews and focus groups provided personal stories of how people in the community access food, what dietary and nutritional elements affect their food choices and health, and how their participation in food assistance programs affects their socialization. Some main questions explore: To what extent do local seniors understand food security in their communities? To what extent and why do local seniors use food assistance programs to manage food security? Through this evaluation and analysis, this study gives feedback to Peace Meal and East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging to better recruit seniors to use the food service and improve current operations. Data collected showed local seniors’ preferences to use Peace Meal for the nutrients like vegetable servings or social benefits like weekly get-togethers at senior centers with friends for lunch. A lack of general awareness for food insecurity and understanding of the OAA Senior Nutrition Program suggests more time and resources for educational promotion by Peace Meal is essential.

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