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Wolf Administration Serves Congregate Meals to Seniors

Hershey, PA – Pennsylvania Department of Aging Acting Secretary Robert Torres visited Mohler Senior Center today with AARP State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh and State Representative Tom Mehaffie to celebrate National Nutrition Month, an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, with local seniors. Acting Sec. Torres, Johnston-Walsh, and Rep. Mehaffie met with seniors and staff before serving lunch.

"Today we were able to not only serve a congregate meal, but also join the seniors for lunch," said Torres. "These events at senior centers provide a safe space for Pennsylvania's older adults to get a nutritious meal and socialize with their peers. I was really pleased to be here today."

The Older Americans Act's (OAA) Congregate Meals Program was designed to combat poor nutrition and social isolation. According to AARP, an OAA Nutrition Program evaluation found that 42 percent of congregate meal participants would skip meals or eat less without this service. Further, it found that in 2017, nearly half of congregate meal recipients lived alone. With many Pennsylvania senior centers providing informative programs, creative arts, exercise, volunteer opportunities, and other special events, seniors have various ways to engage and socialize.

"As individuals age, their caloric needs may decline, but their need for nutrients does not," said Johnston-Walsh said. "Opportunities to enjoy a nutritious meal at senior centers and other locations around the state play an essential role in promoting the well-being and independence of older adults."

Our nation's senior population is growing fast – Meals on Wheels America anticipates that it will nearly double by 2060. This means more and more seniors will be at risk of facing hunger and isolation issues. While the threat of hunger and isolation is a concern for any senior with limited mobility and declining health, some are also facing financial strain. Pennsylvania's aging services network strives to combat those factors year-round by providing seniors with options through in-home meal services, free meals available at senior centers across the commonwealth, and through other essential benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Pennsylvania Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

To learn more about senior community centers and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, click here.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rachel Wrigley, 717-783-6210

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