The DC Department of Aging and Community Living is launching a pilot program to help seniors make good nutritional choices.
The older we get, the more important it is to stay healthy.
But especially now, with inflation creeping into grocery stores, it can be difficult to choose between healthier, more expensive foods and less healthy, cheaper alternatives.
On Tuesday, DC’s Department of Aging and Community Living (DACL) is launching a pilot program to help seniors make the right choice, and it includes money so they can afford it.
“Going through the pantries, they give you a lot of canned goods and not necessarily things you like,” lamented Gloria DuBissette, who lives in Columbia Heights. “With this card you can go to the shops and buy whatever you want, which is great.”
This is the starting point of the program.
“We’re providing 450 seniors with $125 grocery cards that will be topped up monthly for the next 11 months,” said Jessica Smith, DACL’s acting director. “They can use these funds at any grocery store in the district to purchase the foods of their choice.”
The only condition attached to funding, which provides the money on cards (you can’t take it to an ATM and withdraw money) is that seniors must complete a number of nutrition courses.
For Lawrence Byrd of Anacostia, that was an advantage, not a problem.
“It’s lovely. I think it’s a really good program,” Byrd said. may live longer.”
“You assume people of a certain age have knowledge, but not necessarily,” DuBissette said. “Everyone needs to be reminded and updated on how they should be eating – especially as you get older because your nutrition is going to affect your health.”
The pilot program involves seniors who meet certain eligibility criteria, including income and residency requirements. They must also be able to cook and prepare their own meals.
“These are people who have built the very communities we know and love,” Smith said. “They are smart and they are competent. They know the decisions they want to make about their nutritional health, and we want to give that power back to them and really see how it affects their health and their mental health outcomes.
She expects this program to be popular and hopes it can grow. Although it is too late to sign up for this year, she pointed out that there are other forms of help for older people who need it.
“DACL provides many nutritional services,” Smith said. “We have meals delivered to homes, we have joint catering sites, more than 40 sites across the district that provide food for people. We also have partners throughout the community who provide produce, grocery delivery, things like that.
“We want to make sure that even if someone wants services, and now that that program is capped, we can still connect them to a number of our nutrition programs that we offer across the district.”
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