Supporting the health of Manistee seniors

Michigan State University Extension and Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency partner to assess feasibility.

Food, medicine or the electric bill? For too many seniors, deciding between these necessities is a reality. The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), the nation’s leading anti-hunger non-profit, estimates that 1 in 11 Americans 65 or older struggle with food insecurity and are forced to make these decisions on a daily basis. High rates of food insecurity make this a critical health concern among our nation’s elders. Peer-reviewed literature consistently finds food insecurity to be negatively associated with health outcomes such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Good nutrition is foundational to quality of life, especially as we age. For many older adults, congregate and home delivered meal services provide a valuable source of nutrition, socialization and safety.

Michigan State University Extension and the Northwest Michigan Community Action Agency (NMCAA) were recently awarded funding to explore the feasibility of implementing a farm to senior, or farm to institution in Manistee County. NMCAA provides approximately 230 meals five days a week, including four congregate meal sites and home delivered meals to seniors throughout the county. This proposal is one of seven funded in part by a grant from District Health Department #10 through the Live Well Manistee Collaborative Grant Program supported by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

The goal of the proposal aims to strengthen diets of seniors through determining feasibility of a farm to senior/institution project. Farm to institution is when institutions such as hospital, early childhood programs, schools, senior centers, and government agencies find, and buy food grown in their community, region or state. Institutions who procure local food represents a public health strategy, recognized by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, aim to increase access to healthy food and reducing chronic disease burden where people live, learn, work and play. Activities proposed in this grant will inform the development of a farm to senior initiative, leading to improved healthy food access for Manistee seniors, while expanding connections between local growers and an institutional buyer.

This proposed initiative directly aligns and supports the Live Well Manistee 2016 Strategic Plan goal of increasing access to healthy food. The goals of the Live Well Manistee Collaborative Grant funds are aimed at benefiting the health and wellness of Manistee County children and seniors by improving access to healthy food.

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