Elder Nutrition

Frequently I fall into the rut preparing the same old meals week after week. It gets monotonous but it is difficult to fuss over a feast for two. I miss the Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) and the cooking challenge each week’s trash fish offers, I eagerly look forward to its restart in June. I also miss the opportunity to gather the family, as if I need a reason. From time to time I am left to fend for myself and I understand the inertia that drives some to eat cereal two or three times a day.

Cooking for the family is a labor of love, when you know how cooking for 1 is an onerous task and when you don’t a senseless task. Rural living where the closest salad bar could be 30 miles away makes it easy to slip into culinary monotony. As you age joints get stiffer while bones become more brittle, you resist driving when it is dark, or raining, or snowing or streets are filled with obstacles; it becomes a self-imposed house arrest.

Folks in Durham are lucky, we have excellent fish mongers and butchers at the Durham Marketplace who willing cut to order and they also have a nice selection of fresh soups, sushi, salad bar, bakery products and full service deli. Unfortunately they don’t currently deliver and with UNH in session it is tricky to safely navigate streets full of skateboarders, bicyclists, joggers and a commercial area that is one continuous cross walk.

In a recent post, the French government said:

“In its National program for Food, the French government asserted its objective to ensure a safe, diverse and quantity-sufficient diet for the whole population. One fifth of the French population is over 60 and senior citizens are a fragile demographic group that requires special attention.
Elderly people are more likely to suffer from malnutrition than the rest of the population. They can lose their autonomy for everyday tasks such as shopping and cooking. They also tend to lose their taste for eating once they are isolated both literally and figuratively due to a loss of palate sensitivity as well as supportive social contact.”

I asked a friend if he knew of any State or Federal programs that dealt specifically with elder nutrition and he directed me to Joanne Burke Director, UNH Dietetic Internship, Thomas Haas Professor in Sustainable Food Systems who offers the following:

“Seniors are indeed vulnerable in our state, given we are the 6th oldest state, and many are needing to pay for fuel, prescription and property taxes, with little left over for healthy foods…
In NH a number of CAP agencies help to fill in the gaps for food assistance support, and of course seniors are eligible for the Federal SNAP (formerly known as food Stamps Program).
Strafford CAP
http://www.straffordcap.org/programs/food-a-nutrition  (list of food pantries )
The CAP agency in Hillsborough county has a nice way of presenting the different links to many of federal programs that exist in most parts of the state, with many of the CAP agencies serving  to support the integration of these national programs  into the community
There are a number of churches that sponsor food pantries, but in terms of a comprehensive approach, SNAP, Commodity Food Assistance  and Meals on Wheels seem to be the programs one finds most readily accessible .
The Meals on Wheels program often have  a mix of on-site and home delivered meal Programs
 “Each site offers a center for gathering, parties, socializing and lunch.  The Meals on Wheels are package at these locations and delivered throughout the County.  Please use the listing below to find your nearest center.”
Derry Area
39 West Broadway – Derry, NH 03038 in the Marion Gerrish Center
(603) 434-5148
Site Manager: Sharon Foster
Senior Luncheon served Monday – Friday
Meals On Wheels service area – Auburn, Chester, Derry, & Londonderry
Transportation provide to center and other locations
Exeter Area
30 Court Street – Exeter, NH 03833 at the Exeter Senior Center
(603) 778-8196
Site Manager: Rob Pane
Senior Luncheons served Monday – Friday
Meals On Wheels service area – Exeter & Stratham
Senior Shuttle available to the center and other locations
Hampton Area
525 Lafayette Road – Hampton, NH 03842 at the United Methodist Church
(603) 929-1108
Site Manager: Nancy Singleton
Senior Luncheons served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area – Hampton & North Hampton
Londonderry Area
Mammoth Road – Londonderry, NH 03053 at the Londonderry Senior Center
(603) 432-8554
Congregate Coordinator: Jeanne Bouvier
Senior Luncheon service only (Tuesday – Thursday)
Newmarket Area
2 Terrace Drive – Newmarket, NH 03857 at the Newmarket Community Center
(603) 659-3150
Site Manager: Kim Tilton
Senior Luncheon served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area – Newfields & Newmarket
Plaistow Area
18 Greenough Road – Plaistow, NH 03865 at the Vic Geary Center
(603) 382-5995
Site Manager: Emily Low
Senior Luncheon served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area –  Atkinson, Danville, East Kingston, Hampstead, Kingston, Newton, Plaistow, & Sandown
Senior Shuttle available to center and limited other locations
Portsmouth Area
40 Bedford Way – Portsmouth, NH 03801 at Atlantic Heights
(603) 431-0561
Site Manager: Caren Gallagher
Senior Luncheon served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area –  Greenland, New Castle, Newington, Portsmouth, & Rye
Transportation services available to the center
Raymond Area (2 locations)
64 Main Street – Raymond, NH 03077 at the Ray-Fre Senior Center
(603) 895-3258
Congregate Coordinator: Carol Reed
Senior Luncheon Only (Tuesday & Thursday)
1 Church Street – Raymond, NH 03077 at the Congregational Church
(603) 895-0479
Site Manager: Amy Montebianchi
Senior Luncheon served Monday – Friday
Meals On Wheels service area- Brentwood, Candia, Deerfield, Epping, Fremont, Northwood, Nottingham, & Raymond
Senior Shuttles services available to centers and other locations.
Salem Area
1 Sally Sweet Way – Salem, NH 03079 at the Ingram Senior Center
(603) 893-2137
Site Manager: April Coggon
Senior Luncheon served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area –  Salem & Windham
Seabrook Area
311 Lafayette Road – Seabrook, NH 03874 at the Seabrook Community Center
(603) 474-2139
Site Manager: Elizabeth Ash
Senior Luncheon served Monday through Friday
Meals On Wheels service area –  Hampton Falls, Kensington, South Hampton, & Seabrook
Windham Area
5 North Lowell Street – Windham, NH 03087 at the Windham Senior Center
(603) 434-2411
Volunteer Site Coordinator: Barbara Coish
Senior Luncheon Only (Tuesday & Thursday)
The state “211” phone number is designed to help people find all types of assistance which is a help …
Finally, a Summary of some of the major places where food is available and Mapped in NH was conducted by the Carsey Institute 2 years ago, but this report is not designed to map  senior’s meal  programs

If you have elderly neighbors, know of someone living alone then invite them over for a nice home cooked meal or a ride to the Durham Marketplace or one of the many local Farmers’ Market might inspire them. Anything beats cereal for supper. If you find yourself wondering what is for dinner, check out the resources listed above.

I received a follow-up email from Joanne Burke after my initial post, she commented:

I believe (but you can verify this) that  at the on-site  senior center meals such as those sponsored by Meals on Wheels  seniors who are in a position  to donate more $$ can elect to do so and they have the benefit of not eating alone….
With the farmers market senior nutrition program, those in need get  nominal support but on the whole farmers markets are a fun way for seniors to get out and see one another and purchase in the very size they want or need given very little is prepackaged.
One avenue that is often overlooked is the benefit of seniors coming together and sharing a meal via the pot luck style during which  each contributes something, but they enjoy the food together
Grocery shopping with a peer and/or intergenerational grocery shopping can also add a nice twist and offers the advantage of sometimes being able to take advantage of specials that one would otherwise assume as not workable.   Dividing up  a sale 5 bag of potatoes in half, or dividing a bulk rice purchase etc. can help to stretch precious food dollars. Likewise perishable melons and bagged fruit are often cheaper when bought whole.
We do think that generally people eat better together than dining alone.

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