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This page has information for volunteers and legislators about our agency’s mission and programs. To find a meal site or a home-delivered meal program near you, please visit our resource site GetCareSC.com.
The challenges of aging start at birth and continue throughout our life. As we become mature adults we face new issues for which many are unprepared.
“Older adults may experience nutrition risks or malnutrition as their bodies change with age. Physiological processes slow, appetites may decrease and physical problems can arise. In addition, older adults’ chronic conditions and use of multiple medications may increase, which may affect nutrition status. Psychosocial risk factors for malnutrition include cognitive impairment, depression, isolation and difficulty accessing food. People can become malnourished whether they are underweight, overweight, or obese and experience the resulting adverse effects on their health, function and well-being.”1
These adverse effects have a profound impact on a person’s ability to live at home with independence and dignity. The Home and Community Based Services funded by the SCDOA Older Adult Nutrition Program provide services and supports to give our elder population the knowledge and tools to maintain physical functionality to live independently as they navigate through life.
Hunger in SC
- Adults over age 60 make up about 22% of the SC population or around 1,065,420 based on 2014 data. (AGID Data base)
- In 2013, the mean age of group dining meal participants was 76.05 years and the average age of home delivered meal participants was 79.53 years.2
- Twenty percent of South Carolinians over the age of 60 are food insecure, meaning over 200,000 older adults are at risk of hunger and malnutrition.
- The population age 60 years and older is projected to increase to 1,450,487 by the year 2030.
How We Help
The SCDOA Senior Nutrition Programs are funded by Older American’s Act (OAA) Funds and State Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Funds. With this funding the SCDOA elder nutrition program reaches approximately 3% of the aging population in South Carolina.
The goals of the program are to:
- reduce hunger and food insecurity
- promote socialization of older individuals
- promote the health and well-being of older individuals by assisting such individuals to gain access to nutrition and other disease prevention and health promotion services; so as to delay the onset of adverse health conditions resulting from poor nutritional health or sedentary behavior
The program achieves these goals through:
- group dining programs (Title III C-1)
- home delivered meals programs (Title III C-2)
- nutrition education programs focused on behavior change to attain or maintain health
- opportunities for socialization
- referrals to other nutrition assistance programs
Both group dining and home delivered meal programs are required to provide a program of nutrition education. Home delivered meals clients are some of our most frail older adults and the daily or weekly meal delivery they receive is sometimes the only human contact that person will have during the week. The meals served are required to be planned in accordance with the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans with guidance of registered dietitians and input of clients. The meals must meet at least one-third of the daily recommended intake of select nutrients. An additional service that may be provided is nutrition counseling by registered dietitians: South Carolina is evaluating the provision of that service. Maintaining high standards of food safety are of extreme importance because the program serves some of the most vulnerable in our population.
Congregate Meals (AKA Group Dining)
The group dining program is located at community nutrition sites and in senior centers across South Carolina. Meals are served five days per week at most locations and are planned to be appealing and promote good health by following principles laid out in the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In addition to serving healthy meals, the program presents opportunities for social engagement, information on healthy aging, and meaningful volunteer roles, all of which contribute to an older individual’s overall health and well-being. While the importance of adequate nutrition in promoting health and preventing disease is well recognized, the impact of socialization is just now being examined. Recent research shows social isolation has been linked to higher mortality for older men and women (Steptoe, Shankar, Demakakos, & Wardle, 2013).
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There are many opportunities to get involved and contribute to enriching the lives of older adults in our community, from assisting in the preparation and service of meals to assisting with social and learning activities.
Have a skill you would like to share? Contact your local senior center or meal site to learn how to share your skill and create opportunities for the community to come together.
Senior centers have libraries, quilting clubs, card groups, craft guilds, and games. The centers continually need to replace equipment. If you have supplies that are in good condition please contact your local senior center to see what they can use.
Home Delivered Meals
Did you know that not all home delivered meal programs are called Meals on Wheels? County Councils on Aging and other service providers deliver hot daily meals or weekly deliveries of frozen meals to home bound seniors all over the state. The senior citizens who receive meal deliveries are more vulnerable and frail than those participating in senior center activities and rely more heavily on the meals and other services to maintain health and function. Meal service may vary between a daily delivery of a hot meal or a weekly delivery of 5-7 frozen or shelf stable meals. All clients are assessed to determine the type of meal they are capable of handling and for preference where possible. The social contact of the meal delivery may be the only contact a person has and also serves as a safety-check. Additionally, maintaining the integrity and safety of food during delivery is of critical importance. Meal deliverers utilize a variety of thermal tools to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
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Learn more about food safety in home delivered meals Food Safety on The Go Course
1) Tilly, J. Opportunities to Improve Nutrition for Older Adults and Reduce Risk of Poor Health Outcomes. Administration for Community Living, Center for Policy and Evaluation. March 2017
2) Kowlessar, N. Robinson, K. Schur, C. “Older Americans Benefit from Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs.” Administration for Community Living. Administration on Aging. Research Brief Number 8. September 2015