Nutrition Programs for Senior Citizens
Programs Providing Meal Services
All NJ counties have community programs that provide meals to person's age 60 and older. These include congregate or group meals, as well as meals for the homebound. Many of these programs are federally funded, with meals being available for a "suggested contribution." Other meal programs are funded primarily by private sector volunteer organizations. For these meal programs, a fee, usually based on the actual costs of the service, is charged.
Congregate or Group Meals
If you are still able to move about your community and are in need of food and would benefit from the companionship that congregate or group meals provides this service may be of interest to you. Administered by the Area Agencies on Aging in each county, the service provides at least one hot nutritious meal per day, five or more days per week. These meals, along with counseling, socialization, and other services, are usually provided in locations such as senior centers, schools, or churches.
The program is available to all persons age 60 or over and their spouses, regardless of age. Participants are provided with an opportunity to voluntarily contribute whatever they can afford the cost of these meals. Reservations are required, in most instances, 24 hours in advance. To find out what is available in your community call your County Area Agencies on Aging or call the ADRC, Aging and Disability Resource Connection (formerly known as New Jersey EASE), at 877-222-3737.
Seniors who are homebound and unable to get their own nourishment may be eligible for the local Meals on Wheels program. The Area Agencies on Aging, through grantees, provide one (or sometimes more) hot meal a day at least five days per week to older persons who are homebound due to illness, incapacitating disability, or isolation. This program is federally funded and serves only persons age 60 or older. A meal may be provided to the spouse if it is in the best interest of the homebound older person being served.
This federal program has been supplemented with state legislation providing nutrition services on weekends and holidays for frail eligible participants. A formal Needs Assessment is required for participation in these nutrition programs; however, there is no strict income requirement. Call the Aging and Disability Resource Connection at 1-877-222-3737 to find out what is available in your area or find your local County Agency on Aging here.
Privately Funded Programs
In addition to the home-delivered meal programs, which are federally/state funded, there are privately funded programs sponsored by churches and various civic organizations, which offer meals to people who are disabled, isolated, temporarily ill and unable to move about, and others in need.
Additional Information - Further information and referral to the designated meal programs and services are available from the Area Agencies on Aging or from the Aging and Disability Resource Connection at 1-877-222-3737.