ATLANTA — In 2021, Georgia’s Division of Aging Services will revamp food programs in senior centers and provide nutrition services during emergencies using funds from a nutrition innovation grant awarded by the Administration for Community Living.
The three-year grant project, called Food for Thought: Equipping Senior Centers for the Next Emergency, will become the newest centerpiece in Georgia’s Senior Hunger initiative, which seeks to reduce food insecurity among Georgia’s elderly population. Georgia is one of only a dozen organizations awarded the grant.
The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH) will survey meal sites statewide in partnership with the state of Kentucky’s Department of Aging and Independent Living and Georgia’s Division of Aging Services and evaluate those surveys to get a better understanding of offerings at local senior centers. NFESH will also work with Georgia to lead discussions with experts from across the country on developing new ways for senior centers to address senior hunger and other resources the community is lacking — a need that has become greater as more older adults are limiting exposure to community settings amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has forced us to adjust the way we serve meals to seniors by offering more home-delivered meals and vouchers for seniors to get meals in their local communities,” said Robyn Crittenden, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services. “COVID-19 has underscored the importance of creating local emergency preparedness plans that can be effectively and immediately implemented in the absence of assistance from outside entities.”
Grant partners will create a blueprint for distributing meals in emergency situations for rural senior centers to use, with input from those in the local community and experts from different fields. Georgia will test the draft plan before it is ultimately finalized and implemented.
“The work we will do in partnership with NFESH and the state of Kentucky will help Georgia solidify its plans to respond to future emergency events and ensure that older Georgians, especially those in rural areas, receive meals in a safe and efficient manner,” said Abby Cox, director of the Division of Aging Services.
To learn more about the Senior Hunger initiative in Georgia, including the virtual 2020 Georgia Senior Hunger Series, visit aging.ga.gov and click “Get Involved – Senior Hunger.”