Senior Health Matters – Serving the Senior Population in DC - Capital Area Food Bank
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Senior Health Matters – Serving the Senior Population in DC

By Paula Reichel June 2, 2014

Grocery PlusChances are you may know something about the National School Lunch Program and why it’s important. What you may not realize is that the USDA has a similar program for seniors which the Capital Area Food Bank has been operating in DC for nearly two years.
The Grocery Plus Program provides a monthly grocery supplement to low income seniors to help stretch their already taxed fixed incomes. Participants receive nearly thirty pounds of nutritious food which meets their specific dietary needs including healthy canned protein and dairy, whole grains, low sodium vegetables, and low added sugar fruit. The grocery mix encourages seniors to cook from scratch and many choose to make the ingredients their own.
Providing nutritious food to a food insecure senior population is critical. The adverse health effects of food insecurity are magnified for seniors.  Food insecure seniors have significantly worse health outcomes than food secure seniors. They are 50% more likely to be diabetic, three times more likely to suffer from depression, and 60% more likely to have heart failure or experience a heart attack.
The DC Grocery Plus Program is unique among jurisdictions in that it is administered in tandem with the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides participants with an annual fresh produce voucher to be redeemed at participating local farmers markets.  For many, the farmers market vouchers serve as a major incentive to participate in the Grocery Plus program.  In recognition of the significant demand for fresh produce, at the end of May the Capital Area Food Bank will begin providing fresh produce on an ongoing basis to its two Grocery Plus clinic sites. Each participant who picks up their food at a Grocery Plus clinic will have an option to take fresh produce and produce-focused nutrition education will be provided.
The Capital Area Food Bank administers Grocery Plus on behalf of the DC Office on Aging (DCOA). Through the partnership with DCOA, the Capital Area Food Bank is able to expand the realm of resources that can be provided to at-risk seniors. Congregate meal programs, home delivered meals, and transportation assistance are all available to ensure that DC meets its goal of being “Age Friendly.”
More nutritious foods in the hands of seniors means seniors, like students, remain active and engaged. It’s time we give back to those who have given so much, the true experts in the school of life.
For more information on the Grocery Plus Program, please call 202-644-9880 or email For more information on DCOA programs, please call 202-724-4979 or visit