ACL would like to congratulate Heritage Area Agency on Aging’s Encore Café on their recent award at the n4a Conference. Heritage Area Agency on Aging is a key partner in an ACL-funded Innovations in Nutrition grant, awarded to the Iowa Department on Aging in 2017, focused on responding to a decrease in congregate meal attendance. Their concept, Encore Café, has modernized the traditional model for senior dining programs. They offer a range of healthy menu options and attendees can participate in evidence-based programming, cooking demonstrations, and dietitian visits. The cafe also connects diners to additional Heritage services such as case management, elder rights, and caregiver support. Their efforts show how using innovations can increase not only the number of your participants, but the amount of donations as well.
Encore Café operates in four locations per week as a “pop-up” cafe. In one location per day, it offers a choice of entrées and a full salad bar. Food is prepared and served by a local or regional grocery store and participants choose their entrée when they arrive and take their meal. Food is served in a restaurant dining experience with things like reusable dinnerware. Water with lemon is offered in pitchers set on tables, and volunteers pour coffee as participants are seated. Average attendance is around 35-40 people per day, with the newest location averaging 40-45 per serving day. In addition, the average voluntary contribution rate is also increasing.
ACL is pleased to see the example being set in Iowa and encourages other Area Agencies on Aging around the nation to innovate their programs.