Local recognition for community champions who provided essential meal services to seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (March 31, 2022) – This month, the Louisville Metro Senior Nutrition Program joins the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and senior nutrition service providers across the country in celebrating the 50and anniversary of the National Seniors Nutrition Program. Locally, the Louisville Seniors Nutrition Program has worked since 1974 to provide nutritional meals to area seniors through the Meals on Wheels program and at seniors’ assembly sites.
The month of March also coincides with the national March for Meals campaign – a time to share appreciation with staff, volunteers and agency representatives who make Senior Nutrition programs and services possible. This year’s celebration pays special tribute to the individuals and organizations that have stepped up to meet increased demand and altered services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This afternoon, more than 70 people were honored at a drive-in event and received box lunches, certificates of thanks and other tokens of appreciation for their outstanding efforts.
Due to the heightened health risks for seniors during the height of COVID and the increase in the number of seniors struggling with isolation, there has been an increased demand for Senior Nutrition services. In response, Senior Nutrition and Meals on Wheels quickly changed their services and strategies to help seniors stay healthy and able to continue living independently in their own homes.
COVID modified services include:
- Expanded meal delivery, with help from pandemic emergency funding
- Rethinking home-delivered meal options and logistics
- Leverage local partnerships to help fill gaps, provide emergency meals
- Offer collective meal services in alternative formats
“We are extremely grateful for the incredible outpouring of support that has allowed us to adapt services to safely meet client needs during the pandemic,” said Marvita Starks, senior nutrition program manager at the city, which is part of the Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community. Services. “With the increased demand due to the pandemic and the rapid increase in our city’s elderly population, the need for these services continues to grow. Together, we can enable seniors to live independently, healthier at home, and feel more connected to their community as they age.
“The Louisville Metro Government proudly recognizes the 50and anniversary of our local seniors nutrition program, and its tremendous impact on the health and well-being of seniors in our community,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “I am especially grateful to our city staff running the program, KIPDA who provided additional funding, and the countless partners and volunteers who stepped up during the COVID crisis. Their efforts were a great example of how local government and the public, private and non-profit sectors are coming together to address the challenges facing our city.
The Seniors Nutrition Program seeks volunteers throughout the year to assist in a variety of capacities, including packing and serving meals at one of the gathering sites and delivering meals to customers. confined at home. Part-time nutrition center supervisors are also needed to help order meals and supplies, train volunteers, and organize activities for seniors. For more information on volunteer and/or paid positions, call (502) 574-6420.
Meals on Wheels is available to qualified seniors in Jefferson County, age 60 or older, who are housebound and no one is available to help prepare meals. Seniors who would like to receive Meals on Wheels can call (502) 574-6325 to begin the qualification process. Gathering sites for more active seniors, 60+, can be found by calling the same number above or visiting https://louisvilleky.gov/government/resilience-and-community-services/senior-nutrition-program. The sites require a reservation in advance of one day.
“As a key program of the Seniors Act of 1965, the Seniors Nutrition Program is the foundation of our country’s system for helping seniors age in place,” said Alison Barkoff, Acting Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging, Administration for Community Living (ACL). “For 50 years, it has provided healthy meals, opportunities for social interaction, and access to a wide variety of programs and services to help seniors stay active, healthy, and engaged in their communities. ACL is proud of this program and the aging network of services whose leadership and tireless efforts bring it to life across the country.
About the Louisville Metro Resilience and Community Services Seniors Nutrition Program
Louisville Metro Senior Nutrition programs are funded, in part, through a contract with KIPDA and the State Cabinet for Health and Family Services, with funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the metropolitan government of Louisville and private donations from individuals and families. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Mayor Greg Fischer expanded the Senior Nutrition Program Emergency Department from 4,000 frozen meals per week to 25,000. Days later, staff launched the first “Walk for Meals” event, allowing any senior in the metropolitan area to get nutritious frozen meals from the safety of their car. Later, after the state dissolved all Meals on Wheels waiting lists, Louisville used CARES funding to help meet an unprecedented number of meal requests — nearly 80,000 from May through December 2020. In total, during Mayor Fischer’s tenure, a total of 2,733,685 meals were provided to Metro Louisville.