For more than 15 years, nutrition program directors at Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging have highlighted the importance of healthful eating and activity for older adults statewide with special events during March, National Nutrition Month.

This year, Indiana’s statewide Nutrition Awareness Day: Put Your Best Fork Forward will be held the week of March 13-17, 2017, at senior congregate meal sites around the state. Special speakers, games, informational placemats, nutrition activities and even a proclamation from Governor Holcomb will help encourage better eating habits.

Older adults have special nutritional needs that can be hard to manage without nutrition risk assessments, counseling and other help. Seniors need more calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12 in their diets, and a balanced, healthful diet is important for the management of chronic conditions prevalent in older adults such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and obesity. Poor nutrition in seniors can exacerbate other health conditions contributing to increased hospital admissions and lengths of stay, as well as risk for hospital and nursing facility readmission.

Many Indiana seniors are hungry. Last year, Indiana AAAs provided more than 2,000,000 meals through home delivery and congregate meal sites to nearly 19,000 persons. AARP Foundation’s report on Food Insecurity Among Older Adults found that 16.79% of Hoosiers aged 60 and older had marginal to very low rates of food security. The most recent Indiana State Report from Feeding America, the nation’s network of food banks, found that 12.8% of Indiana food bank clients, or 122,900 persons, were aged 60 and older.

How can you help? Reach out to your U.S. Senators and Representative to tell them about the importance of senior nutrition and your support for the Older Americans Act and U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition programs like SNAP that support older adults. To connect someone in need with older adult nutrition services, contact the Indiana Area Agency on Aging that serves their county or call 800.986.3505.