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Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley Receives AARP Foundation Grant

Elder Services is among 5 community-based organizations selected to receive funds to help older adults eat healthy in their community

AARP Foundation has awarded a two year, $370,806 grant to Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley (Elder Services) to advance nutrition information and healthy food access across Massachusetts. This national grant initiative is designed to help vulnerable older adults by addressing issues of food security, healthy eating behaviors and social isolation.

“For many low-income older adults, food security, housing security and financial security can be at risk as we age,” said AARP Foundation President Lisa Marsh Ryerson. “AARP Foundation is proud to work with organizations committed to helping older adults live their best lives by connecting them with trustworthy resources in their own communities.”

Under this grant, Elder Services will spread its evidence-informed nutrition intervention, Healthy Eating for Successful Living in Older Adults (HESL), to more than 2,000 low income older adults across the Commonwealth. HESL is aimed at addressing food access, knowledge, and behavioral barriers to healthy eating. Funding will also allow for a robust, external evaluation of the program.

Elder Services CEO, Joan Hatem-Roy, points to the growing need for sustainable, community-based solutions to address the challenges of food insecurity among older adults. “Today, there are no evidence-based programs addressing nutrition behaviors and access issues for older adults in the community. This work will change that, paving the way for a sustainable and easily replicable model of overcoming healthy eating barriers for our most vulnerable populations.”

This new partnership with AARP Foundation follows two successful years of working with the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation to establish the groundwork for increased focus on nutrition behaviors and food security for older adults in the Commonwealth.

“Eating healthy food and staying active can enhance the quality of life for people of all ages, including those over 65,” said Karen Voci, president of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. “The Healthy Eating for Successful Living workshops provides critical information to promote independence and well-being, and encourage seniors to make healthy choices and help them live a long and enriched life.”

Working with AARP Foundation, each grantee is advancing a plan in its community to help in one of AARP Foundation’s four main areas:

  • Encourage more working-age older adults to become employed and better equipped to protect their financial assets.
  • Help create a food-secure community where older adults have access to healthy, safe and affordable foods.
  • Ensure older adults are able to keep and maintain the place called home.
  • Aide in creating a socially connected community and help reduce the risk of social isolation for older adults.

To learn more about these and other grants, please visit http://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/grants/.