March is National Nutrition Month! Did you know that hunger affects 13.6% of Washtenaw County residents?
Malnutrition, or not getting enough food or nutrients, is a big problem facing older adults. Once older adults stop driving, they rely on others or on public transportation to get to the store. They may not be able to get to the store as often as they used to, or they may have difficulty cooking due to chronic pain or adjusting to just cooking for one. Eating may also be unpleasant due to issues with the mouth or teeth. 1 in 10 older adults living alone in their own home experiences malnutrition. 1/3 of older adults experience over-nutrition– they eat as they did when they were younger even though they’re not as active, leading to weight gain and obesity.
Signs of malnutrition can include:
- Increase or decrease in appetite/weight
- Dull hair
- Easily bruised
- Issues with mouth/teeth
- Feelings of weakness
- For more information about malnutrition, click here.
There are programs in the community that can help fill the gaps with meals/food:
Congregate Meal/Senior Café Program– Meals are served in community settings (usually Senior Centers) for a small fee. Older adults can enjoy a nutritionally balanced meal while socializing and being out in their community. Some café sites offer lunch 5 times per week, while others only serve 2-3 days per week. Click here for a list of Senior Cafes in Washtenaw County. As of this writing, there’s only one Lunch Café in Washtenaw County that is vegetarian and nut-free.
Food Pantries– These are community programs that offer food to individuals and families in need. Requirements vary from program to program, but most require ID and proof of residency. Currently, Jewish Family Services operates the only specialty food pantry in the county.
Home Delivered Meals– Sometimes called “meals on wheels,” these are nutritionally balanced meals that are delivered from a non-profit organization to older adults in the community who are unable to leave their homes. The meal is delivered straight to the door.
UPDATE: Food Gatherers has a list of food resources open during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. Click here for a list of essential programs still operating in Washtenaw County, including food assistance.