ACL recently awarded 11 grants for innovative projects that will enhance the quality, effectiveness and outcomes of nutrition services programs provided by the national aging services network. The 2020 grants total $2,649,389 over a three-year project period. ACL aims to identify innovative and promising practices that can be scaled across the country and to increase the use of evidence-informed practices within nutrition programs through this grant program.
The 11 organizations receiving grants and their projects include:
- AgeOptions – IL: AgeOptions – IL: The AgeOptions project is an innovation of “Title III-C 1.5”. This project addresses a gap in the continuum of services between Title III - C1, Congregate Meals and Title III - C2, Home Delivered Meals by 1) targeting an unmet need through an alternative delivery mechanism using unique partnerships, 2) providing a new lower cost decreased overhead option of 21 meals per week 3) providing opportunities for socialization, 4) decreasing food waste; increasing consumption, and 5) targeting an ethnically, racially diverse and limited English-speaking older adults and those with chronic conditions.
- Apostle Group LLC – MD: This project will develop a standardized system of statewide care delivery for adults suffering with diabetes that includes: 1) the establishment of a diabetes pathway that provides an integration and reimbursement model for AAAs, 2) technology to improve access to care, reduce social isolation and food insecurity, and 3) the development of medically tailored menu options.
- Iowa Department of Aging – IA: The goal of this project is to modernize Iowa’s congregate meal program infrastructure, delivery mechanisms and outreach to increase the number of consumers and meals served. Project objectives include: 1) establishing a restaurant partnership infrastructure in the Elderbridge AAA service region, 2) developing flexible approaches to congregate meal service delivery mechanisms to target and outreach to two generations of older adults, 3) modernizing a streamlined intake process through technology use, and 4) identifying seniors who may be food insecure, socially isolated, and rural and providing nutrition education.
- Kentucky State Cabinet for Health – KY: The goal of the Kentucky State Cabinet for Health project is to prepare the aging network to respond to catastrophic emergencies using strategies, actions and plans that have been tested in the aftermath of COVID-19. The project will deliver resources and tools to address social isolation and access to regular, reliable nutritious food sources.
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – MI: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Aging and Adult Services Agency, in partnership with four Area Agencies on Aging and Michigan State University Extension, will enhance nutrition programs through the three-year Boxes, Bags and Buddies project. The goal is to provide greater choices, nutrition education and social support within the existing home delivered and congregate meal programs.
- New York City Department for the Aging – NY: The New York City Department for the Aging project will assume a holistic approach to address the nutritional, social and mental health needs of older New Yorkers. The project will empower seniors to manage their mental health, nutrition and health status better; encourage social connectedness and leverage technology to create efficiencies and facilitate engagement.
- Open Hand Atlanta – GA: Open Hand Atlanta will modernize nutrition care for seniors participating in a pilot of tele-nutrition services. This new protocol will allow for the delivery of cost-effective nutrition education services for seniors who are at highest nutrition and food security risk. The objectives of the project include: 1) improve the health of seniors who are at highest nutritional risk by referring them for individualized Medical Nutrition (MNT) provided by an Open Hand Atlanta Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) via the tele-nutrition platform and 2) develop and evaluate monthly nutrition presentations that will be either virtual or recorded webinars via the tele-nutrition platform.
- Project Open Hand - CA: The goals of Project Open Hand are to create a program where: 1) older adults who are unable to shop or attend a congregate site can maintain and sustain their ability to cook, 2) address the needs of congregate participants during and after the pandemic, 3) provide healthful culturally competent and/or medically tailored at a low cost, and 4) address social isolation through socialization, nutrition education, exercise and chronic disease self-management opportunities.
- University of North Carolina at Asheville – NC: The goal of this project is to facilitate healthcare investments in Older Americans Act (OAA) services by linking cost-effective, modernized OAA nutrition and health promotion diabetes services to improved health outcomes. The project will demonstrate person-centered carbohydrate-controlled home delivered and congregate nutrition meals along with wrap-around services to clients with pre-diabetes and diabetes.
- Georgia State University, University Foundation Inc. – GA: The work of Georgia State University, University Foundation will equip the aging network to address social isolation, loneliness and elevated suicide risk among vulnerable older adults during COVID-19. They will leverage the skills, interest and compassion of Nutrition Services volunteers to reduce social isolation, loneliness and elevated suicidality among diverse, at-risk, homebound older adults through the novel BE WITH (Belonging and Empathy, With Intentional Targeted Helping) innovation.
- Oasis Institute – MO: Oasis and Texas A&M University Center for Population and Aging will adapt Healthy Habits for Adults into a five-week virtual workshop with a meal preparation and virtual lunch called Virtual Healthy Habits (VHH). The project addresses creating partnerships between universities with aging services network organizations to test the new virtual workshop, extend the time people can safely remain in their home and enhance the quality and effectiveness of older adult nutrition programs, all through a lens of social distancing.