Local recognition held for community champions who provided essential meal services for seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (March 31, 2022) – This month, the Louisville Metro Senior Nutrition Program joins the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and senior nutrition service providers across the country in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the national Senior Nutrition Program. Locally, Louisville’s Senior Nutrition Program has been working since 1974 to provide nutritional meals for area seniors through the Meals on Wheels program and at senior congregate sites.
March also coincides with the national March for Meals campaign – a time to share appreciation with the staff, volunteers, and agency representatives who make Senior Nutrition’s programs and services possible. This year’s celebration pays special tribute to the individuals and organizations who stepped up to help with increased demand and modified services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This afternoon, more than 70 individuals were honored at a drive-by event and presented with a boxed lunch, a certificate of thanks and other tokens of appreciation for their outstanding efforts.
Due to the increased health risks of seniors during the height of COVID, and more older adults struggling with isolation, there was an increased demand for Senior Nutrition’s services. In response, Senior Nutrition and Meals on Wheels quickly shifted their services and strategies to help older adults stay healthy and able to continue living independently in their own homes.
COVID-modified services included:
- Expanding meal delivery, with help from emergency pandemic relief funding
- Reworking home-delivered meal options and logistics
- Tapping local partnerships to help fill gaps, provide emergency meals
- Providing congregate meal services in alternative formats
“We are extremely grateful to the incredible outpouring of support that allowed us to adapt services to safely meet clients’ needs during the pandemic”, said Marvita Starks, program manager for the city’s Senior Nutrition Program, part of Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services. “With the increased demand due to the pandemic atop the rapid increase in our city’s senior population, the need for these services continue to increase. Together, we can keep seniors living independently, healthier at home and feeling more connected to their community as they age.”
“Louisville Metro Government proudly recognizes the 50th anniversary of our local Senior Nutrition Program, and it’s tremendous impact on the health and well-being of older adults in our community,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “I am especially grateful to our city’s staff who operate the program, KIPDA which provided additional funding, and the countless partners and volunteers who ramped up efforts during the COVID crisis. Their efforts were a prime example of how local government and public, private and nonprofit sectors come together to address challenges facing our city.”
The Senior Nutrition Program seeks volunteers all year long to help in a variety of capacities, including packaging and serving meals at one of the congregate sites, and delivering meals to homebound clients. Part-time nutrition center supervisors are also needed to help with ordering meals and supplies, training volunteers and organizing activities for seniors. For more information about volunteer and/or paid positions, call (502) 574-6420.
Meals on Wheels is available to qualified seniors in Jefferson County, 60 years or older, who are homebound with no one available to help prepare meals. Seniors who would like to receive Meals on Wheels can call (502) 574-6325 to begin the qualification process. The senior congregate sites for more active seniors, 60 and older, can be found by calling the same number above or by visiting https://louisvilleky.gov/government/resilience-and-community-services/senior-nutrition-program. Sites require a one-day advanced reservation.
“As the keystone program of the Older Americans Act of 1965, the Senior Nutrition Program is at the foundation of our nation’s system for helping older adults age in place”, said Alison Barkoff, Acting Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging, Administration for Community Living (ACL). “For 50 years, it has provided healthy meals, opportunities for social interaction, and access to a wide variety of programs and services to help older people stay active, healthy and engaged in their communities. ACL is proud of this program and the aging services network whose leadership and tireless efforts bring it to life across the country.”
About Louisville Metro Resilience and Community Services’ Senior Nutrition Program
Louisville Metro Senior Nutrition programs are funded, in part, under a contract with KIPDA and the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, with funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Louisville Metro Government and private donations from individuals and families. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Mayor Greg Fischer expanded the Senior Nutrition Program’s emergency service from 4,000 frozen meals per week to 25,000. Days later, the staff launched the first “March for Meals” event, allowing any senior in the metro area an opportunity to pick up nutritious frozen meals from the safety of their cars. Later, after the state dissolved all Meals on Wheels waiting lists, Louisville used CARES funding to assist in serving an unprecedented number of requests for meals – nearly 80,000 from May through December 2020. In all during Mayor Fischer’s term, a total of 2,733,685 meals were provided to Metro Louisville.