Elders at the Table (EAT)
Diverse organizations throughout central Indiana provide meals to older adults every year. Central Indiana Senior Fund is committed to helping them improve meal delivery to this underserved population.
Yet despite efforts to provide home-delivered or group meals for local seniors, the system for ensuring older adults eat well could be improved – according to a study commissioned by the Indianapolis Retirement Home Fund, (now named the Central Indiana Senior Fund, a fund of CICF).
In response to increased requests to fund meal and nutrition programs for older adults, IRH Fund commissioned the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community (CAC) to research meal and nutrition programs available to older Hoosiers in central Indiana, and to evaluate the accessibility of those programs. This research led to the creation of Elders at the Table (EAT), an initiative that brings together meal providers to the elderly and other stakeholders to determine how the meal delivery infrastructure in central Indiana can be improved.
The following were among the study’s key findings:
- Senior nutrition affects a range of older adults, not just the low-income.
- Senior nutrition involves a complex set of challenges – from the food itself to when and with whom meals are served.
- Medical and lifestyle advances have given us longer lives – which means the percentage of Americans over the age of 65 is increasing more rapidly. Yet the systems that traditionally looked after our older citizens – families, neighborhoods and communities – are more fragmented by a mobile, fast-paced society, and are not the safety nets they once were.
- Consequently, many of our elderly are not eating well enough to maintain their health.
In 2008, CAC made recommendations to the IRH Fund board on how to evolve EAT over three years:
- Create an infrastructure for meal and food providers.
- Increase public awareness of the need and programs available.
- Promote collaboration among providers.
In response, the Fund board committed $500,000 over three years to implement the recommendations, and today the EAT Coalition of food providers and others are working to create a system that will be able to meet the food needs of our elderly neighbors.
According to Pam Velo, former Associate Vice President for Donor Services at CICF, “The Senior Fund is being strategic and forward thinking about how to help older citizens of central Indiana now and in the future. Contributions to the Fund will be critical to help the elderly over the next few years as more and more Baby Boomers join the ranks of the elderly.”
A new study explores possible factors beyond the food support systems and the demographic characteristics of Indiana’s seniors, which might contribute to Indiana's ranking of 12th among the top 15 states with highest food insecurity among seniors.