Innovative senior nutrition program recognized by state
AMBLER >> Montco SAAC (the Senior Adult Activities Center of Montgomery County) was recognized by the state of Pennsylvania for putting nutrition and sustainability at the forefront of its senior nutrition program. Executive Director Linda Collin and Director of Nutrition Services Whitney Lingle accepted the state’s 2017 Best Practice in Nutrition for Older Pennsylvanians Award from Pennsylvania Department of Aging for the nonprofit’s congregate lunch program. The award was presented to Collins by Teresa Osborne, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, at the Department of Aging’s awards ceremony on May 16 at the Harrisburg campus of Penn State.
Montco SAAC has been tackling the issue of senior food insecurity head on through hosting the What A Waste food waste study conducted by the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger (NFESH). Beginning in July of 2016, the Ambler Senior Center has taken part in this program to decrease senior hunger through sustainable food practices including measuring the amount and nutrients of food leftover from the Center’s daily on-site congregate lunch, and then recycling the uneaten food into compost.
The What A Waste study has acted as a conduit for community outreach for Montco SAAC. Aspects of the senior nutrition program, such as the installation of raised gardening beds at the center, a location for composting, and improved access to local fruits and vegetables, was made possible only through communal effort. Organizations, businesses and individuals in the region including Whole Foods Market, Ambler Mayor Jeanne Sorg, Eagle Scout Jacob Johnston with Ambler Troop 3, local farmers, Trax Cafe and the Ambler Farmers Market have all helped ensure the program’s success. Additionally, Montco SAAC’S contributions to improving senior nutrition have been honored this year with grants of support from the W.W. Smith Charitable Trust, The Charter Foundation, The Wawa Foundation, Conicelli Autoplex and the Leo & Peggy Pierce Family Foundation.
“It’s been a great opportunity to collaborate with community members and empower those we serve to take an active role in their food system” said Lingle. “By giving the seniors ownership and fostering a little friendly competition, it’s enabled us to have larger conversations about balanced eating, sustainability and food access with members and volunteers.”
George B., a member at the Ambler Senior Center, often proudly shows off his plate before disposing of it; offering proof that he is avoiding waste by eating his vegetables. Along with focus groups and active participation in composting, there has been an increase in food related conversations in the center as a whole. By replicating the waste reduction, increasing nutrition education and offering new engagement measures in Montco SAAC’S Norristown Senior Center, Lingle hopes to decrease senior hunger throughout Montgomery County. For more information about Montco SAAC and how you can fight senior hunger in Montgomery County, visit www.montcosaac.com.
About Montco SAAC (Senior Adult Activities Center of Montgomery County)
Through recreational, educational, and social programs at two locations in Montgomery County, Montco SAAC’S senior centers involve, enrich, and empower adults 50 years of age or better to create and maintain independence in all phases of life. The organization’s Meals on Wheels program is a natural extension of this belief, as our three programs allow over 350 homebound seniors in Montgomery county to remain safely and comfortably in the own homes. For more information, visit www.montcosaac.com.