Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County is pleased to announce the new Healthy@Home Senior Nutrition Program, a non-sectarian initiative which provides low-income, homebound seniors with healthy food and nutrition information delivered directly to their door. Healthy@Home is designed to increase food security among seniors in Mercer County. Clients work with a geriatric care manager and a registered dietician to select foods that are healthy, easy to prepare and enjoyable. They can choose fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, poultry, frozen fish and chicken, frozen fruits and vegetables, canned goods, soups and more. At least once a month, volunteers deliver the food along with nutrition information, recipes and food safety tips.
“We’re taking our food pantry on the road,” says Michelle Napell, Executive Director of JFCS. “We have so many seniors in the community who are mostly homebound and have limited finances. They aren’t able to get to the supermarket or our pantry. They’re unable to carry grocery bags or even stand in the kitchen to prepare a meal. Some even have to make difficult choices on whether to pay bills or buy food. Others can’t afford the high cost of fresh fruits and vegetables and settle for cheaper, unhealthy alternatives.” Healthy@Home will provide these vulnerable seniors with more access to healthy and nutritious food.
“We are increasingly hearing about how food equals medicine and this is a great way to proactively advocate for seniors in the community,” says Napell. In fact, according to a Health Affairs study, “delivering meals to vulnerable sick people might be a simple way to cut back on emergency room visits and hospitalizations, reining in some of the costliest kinds of medical care. Low-income seniors or disabled younger people who received home-delivered meals — particularly meals designed by a dietitian for that person’s specific medical needs — had fewer emergency visits and lower medical spending than a similar group of people who did not receive meal deliveries.”
In addition to increasing food security, the Healthy@Home program encourages socialization and community connections for these homebound and isolated seniors by offering a Friendly Visitor. Friendly Visitors spend meaningful time with these seniors, either chatting, playing games, working on puzzles, crafts and more.
One of our clients recently reported, “Thanks so much for the food delivery. I can’t remember the last time I had a fresh apple. They’re too heavy to carry home from the supermarket.” Another said, “When the volunteers deliver my food, I really feel like they are my family.”
JFCS has been operating the Yvette Sarah Clayman Kosher Community Food Pantry since 1999. The Pantry is choice-based and allows our clients to shop for their food instead of picking up a prepared bag. This follows our philosophy of empowering clients to care effectively for themselves and others. It is open to people of all denominations in Mercer County.
For more information on the Healthy@Home Senior Nutrition program, please contact Beth Englezos, Manager of Senior Programs & Hunger Prevention at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-987-8100, ext. 126.