Largest Healthy Eating Program for Older Adults in the Country Supports New York’s Efforts as First Age-Friendly State

The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), in partnership with area agencies on aging (AAAs) across the state, is highlighting New York’s nation-leading efforts in providing the highest quality meals to older adults as part of the national March for Meals campaign, held each year in March during National Nutrition Month.

“Good nutrition is a major component in maintaining health, autonomy, and social connectivity for hundreds of thousands of meal participants annually,” said New York State Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen. “No service has been more important during COVID-19, where counties continue to meet the challenge of the significant increased demand for meals, which has led to millions more meals provided during this pandemic.”

March for Meals efforts also align with the successful Nourish New York initiative, a multiagency effort to reduce food insecurity and support food producers during this unprecedented time.

The state’s aging services network relies on a combination of paid staff and volunteers to prepare meals and deliver them on over 2,400 meal routes and at more than 800 congregate sites throughout the state. During the pandemic, congregate sites have been closed and switched to either home delivery or drive-up grab and go sites. Groceries have also been delivered to individuals staying at home to stop the spread of the virus. In addition to providing a nutritious meal, home delivered meal drivers serve as the eyes and ears for their communities, providing an important health and safety check to at-risk older people. For many older adults, a home delivered meal volunteer may be the only person they see from week to week.

NYSOFA and many AAAs are participating in March for Meals events to raise awareness about the critical nutritional needs of older adults and the importance of healthy meals, nutrition counseling, and education. They are also calling on residents to consider volunteering to deliver meals as well as giving to their local offices for the aging to meet the increases in demand. Counties participate in March for Meals activities throughout the month, and many hold events on March 22 each year to commemorate the date when the national nutrition program for adults 60 and older was established in 1972.

Select events include:

 March 4, Facebook Live: Celebration of National Nutrition Month. NYSOFA Acting Director Greg Olsen was joined by AAA representatives to talk about the many nutrition services available for older New Yorkers. View the event.

 March 10, Suffolk County: Greg Olsen joined Suffolk County Office for the Aging Director Holly Rhodes-Teague in providing home delivered meals to older Suffolk County program participants.

 March 17, Orange County: Greg Olsen will deliver meals with Orange County Office for the Aging Director Ann Marie Maglione.

 March 22, Rockland County:

  • 10am: Joined by Rockland County Executive Ed Day, Greg Olsen will deliver meals to program participants.
  • Noon: Greg Olsen will lend a hand at a drive-through food pantry event.

Please contact your local AAA to see what events may be taking place in your area.

New York State:

  • Provides at least $53 million more for home delivered and community meals than any other state.
  • Ranks first in the nation for the number of people receiving nutrition services and supports.
  • Serves 22.3 million meals annually to 245,000 older adults.
  • Served more than 5 million additional meals during COVID-19.
  • Provides nutrition counseling, education, and health promotion services for almost 82,000 older adults every year.
  • Advocates to improve access to food for those in greatest economic and social need across the state, particularly those in underserved areas where there are high levels of poverty, environmental barriers to positive health behaviors, and low levels of access to needed health.

For more information:

 About the New York State Office for the Aging and Health Across All Policies/Age-Friendly New York

The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) continuously works to help the state’s 4.6 million older adults be as independent as possible for as long as possible through advocacy, development and delivery of person-centered, consumer-oriented, and cost-effective policies, programs, and services that support and empower older adults and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations that serve them.

New York is nationally recognized for being the first age-friendly state in the nation. Using the state’s Prevention Agenda as the overarching framework, in 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched a Health Across All Policies approach, where public and private partners work together to positively impact population health by marrying health care, preventive health, and community design, in concert with addressing social determinants of health, to improve the lives of all New Yorkers, young and old.

Stay connected—download the NYSOFA mobile app for iOS or Android; visit the NYSOFA Facebook page; follow @NYSAGING on Twitter and NYSAging on Instagram; or visit aging.ny.gov.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here