IONIA — The Ionia County Commission on Aging is reopening its meal sites in March and celebrating the 50th anniversary of a national program for seniors.
The Ionia County COA is celebrating 50 years of the national Senior Nutrition Program, which has supported nutrition services for older adults since 1972. The agency was founded in 1973.
The COA is planning to reopen congregate meals on March 1, according to Director Carol Hanulcik. In-person meals have been stopped since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are now making their return. Hanulcik said it couldn’t come at a more perfect time.
“I can’t think of a more fitting time to relaunch in-person meals here in Ionia, at our beautifully remodeled Senior Center, than on the 50th anniversary of the national Senior Nutrition Program,” Hanulcik said. ”We’ll be giving thanks for this program at all our sites throughout March.”
The Senior Nutrition Program is funded by the Older Americans Act, according to a press release. Local senior nutrition programs serve as hubs for adults ages 60 and older to receive nutritious meals and other vital services that strengthen social connections and promote health and well-being, per the release.
Up to half of adults age 65 and older at risk of malnutrition each year in the U.S. and more than 10 million face hunger, according to the release. Older adults sometimes lack access to the food they need to stay healthy and independent.
The COA served more than 75,000 home-delivered meals in fiscal year 2021, according to Hanulcik.
The COA is part of the Senior Nutrition Program network. The COA promotes healthy eating, decreases social isolation and improves health for older adults. Services included congregate meals, in-home services, transportation, wellness and healthy age programming, caregiver support, info and referral, senior Project FRESH coupons, tax return and MI Credits assistance and more.
In July, the COA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Senior Nutrition Program during Senior Day at the Ionia Free Fair. Details will be released at a later date.