Some $74.6 million in state and federal funding has been set aside for New York state’s 59 county-based agencies on aging, it was announced Aug. 30.
The money will be used to support programs that improve older individuals’ access to nutritional and disease prevention services.
State officials said these services currently help more than 238,000 older New Yorkers prevent or reduce the effect of chronic disease associated with diet and weight; strengthen the link between nutrition and physical activity for a healthy lifestyle; and improve access to nutritional information, education, counseling, and healthy foods.
This year’s commitment will generate an additional $98.3 million in funding from municipalities, plus an additional $11.5 million in direct voluntary contributions from program participants, officials said.
Of that amount, Saratoga County will receive $646,554.
“New Yorkers help their neighbors in their time of need and, with this funding, we will help ensure some of our most vulnerable citizens are not in danger of going hungry, maintain their health, and manage or reduce chronic diseases,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “I thank the members of New York’s Congressional delegation for their efforts to secure this funding.”
The nutritional needs of older adults become more critical with advancing age, officials said. Poor diet and physical inactivity are among the leading causes of disability among Americans, and cause one-third of premature deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Malnutrition affects one out of four older Americans living in the community and is a factor in half of all hospital admissions and readmissions of older people.
The broad range of nutrition services supported by this program work to combat these trends by helping provide:
• Healthy dining options for 175,000 older adults annually at more than 700 community congregate meal sites.
• Nutritious home-delivered meals for 62,000 older individuals annually through more than 1,900 home-delivered meal routes.
• Nutrition counseling, education, and health promotion services for more than 300,000 older adults every year.
• Assistance with applying for other benefits, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, to combat hunger and improve health outcomes.
State Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen said good nutrition "is the cornerstone of good health, and New York consistently ranks at the top nationally in providing nutritious meals to older adults in need. For older New Yorkers who may have difficulty shopping and preparing meals, are in need of guidance regarding their diets for medical reasons, or can benefit from a social environment with access to other services and benefits, this program is essential."
Congressman Paul Tonko said, "A focus on proper diet and health is especially critical for older Americans, and this program will give them the tools they need to live long and healthy lives in retirement."
"It's critical that we provide the resources necessary to support our seniors and I applaud this important funding," said Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. "This funding will be used to give our seniors access to quality nutrition and health services, helping to enhance quality of life."
Director of AARP for New York state Beth Finkel said a nutritious diet is important to staying healthy "and staying healthy is key to aging with dignity and independence. Home-delivered meals in particular help ease the tremendous burdens on many of New York's nearly 2.6 million unpaid family caregivers, who help loved ones age in their own homes, as the vast majority want."