The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) in March marked the 50th anniversary of the National Nutrition Program for the Elderly (NPE). Under the program, NYSOFA and a network of aging services professionals and volunteers have provided more than one billion meals to 10 million older adults in New York state. The average cost of providing a meal is estimated to be $10.
NPE came into being in 1972 when it was permanently authorized by Congress as part of the federal Older Americans Act that had been passed in 1965. The mission of NPE was established as supporting the health and well-being of older adults through nutrition services.
Funding for New York’s implementation of the nutrition program comes from a combination of federal, state and local government sources.
Survey data indicated that 42% of the seniors benefiting from New York’s nutrition program are age 85 or older, while 72% are age 75 or older. Females constitute 65% of those being served while 61% of the recipients live alone and 39% are low-income individuals. About 66% of the elderly benefiting from the program have four or more chronic health conditions.
“NYSOFA is proud of the vital work rendered by local agencies on aging and community partners to reach this important milestone in meeting the nutritional needs of older adults,” Greg Olsen, director of NYSOFA, said. “New York’s nutrition program has been a lifeline for millions of older adults since its inception and especially so during the past two years of the pandemic.”
Olsen pointed out everytime a meal is delivered to a person’s home or the person visits a location where meals are being served is a chance to make a connection, overcome social isolation, discover additional support services and secure help for friends and neighbors in need.
Ron Kim, who chairs the New York State Assembly Committee on Aging, said, ”We are proud of this milestone in our society’s recognition of the dignity and worth of aging New Yorkers, and I look forward to building on its legacy by continuing to empower older adults while protecting and expanding their rights.”
According to Becky Preve, executive director of the Association on Aging in New York, “The nutrition program delivered by aging services providers is a lifeline for older adults and their families. The ability to provide nutritious meals and a daily safety check are many times the reason older individuals are able to age in place.”
New York’s nutrition services are available statewide to individuals age 60 and over. These include congregate meals at community dining sites or home-delivered meals for those meeting eligibility criteria.