Nutrition Services

Also known as: Food and Nutrition Services, FNS

Last Updated: November 25, 2020

Written by the Open Caregiving Team. Editorial review by Joyce O. Murphy RN, MSN.

What are nutrition services?

The Administration for Community Living, with funding provided by the Older Americans Act, provides states with grant funding for food services. Some of these are to provide special nutrition services for aging adults.

Who funds nutrition services?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds many of the larger nutrition services such as:

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that helps eligible people with their food budget.
  • The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) that provides funding to pay for meals at adult day care settings.
  • The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) that assures that aging people with low incomes have access to fresh vegetables and other produce.
    • It includes support for the development of markets, food stands, and community supported agriculture.
    • One goal is to increase support for local produce farmers and growers.
  • The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) sends food to states and territories to:
    • Add nutritious foods to aging adults’ and others’ diets.
    • Improve health through access to healthy foods.

Meals-on-Wheels also administers a large amount of nutrition services delivering meals from at least 5000 sites across the U.S.

  • It serves over 2 million people each year.
  • Funding is a combination of federal funds approved through the Older Americans Act, state funds, local funds, and donations.
  • Overall the program has been found to increase human contact along with providing nutrition for people who need it.

Who is eligible for nutrition services?

The nutrition programs serve people who are age 60 or older and who:

  • Have a low income.
  • Are part of a minority group or speak little English.
  • Live in a rural community.
  • Are at risk for needing to live in a facility.

Meal programs also have the option to provide meals for:

  • Those who volunteer during meal hours.
  • Spouses of any age married to an older adult.
  • Adults with disabilities who are eligible to attend congregate meals when they live in housing with mostly older adults.
  • People with disabilities who live with an eligible older adult.
  • Congregate meals are offered where people get together as part of:
    • Housing for people who are aging.
    • Senior center services and events.
    • Community meal programs.
  • Home delivered meals provide nutrition and social contact for aging people who live alone, with a spouse, or caregiver.
  • Nutrition counseling is offered in groups or individually. These help people learn about foods and meal patterns to improve health because of:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Weight concerns
    • Food sensitivities and allergies
  • Farmers’ Market programs are popping up around the country! These:
    • Support your loved one in accessing fresh produce and local food-related products.
    • Benefit local growers and small businesses to gain exposure and new clients.
  • Assistance with SNAP means that your loved one’s food budget improves. SNAP allowances are for healthy foods. People can also use them to buy seeds and plants for growing their own food at home.

Where to find nutrition services for elders?

To find nearby nutrition services, contact your local Area Agency on Aging. The staff there will help you find programs to assist your loved one.

Additionally, nutrition services are available through different initiatives across the country. They can be found in large cities and small towns. The services have different names and can be found in special community settings, including:

  • Faith-based settings where there are food banks or group meals for special holidays.
  • Community volunteer groups who distribute food to elders, including that from the supplemental food program.

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