ANDERSON, Ind. —
A couple of slices of toast for breakfast and some canned tomato soup for lunch and dinner.
Sounds good, right? If you’re looking for something high in nutrition and low in sodium, it couldn’t be more wrong.
“Unfortunately, that’s the case for a lot of seniors,” said Marianne Spangler, a registered dietitian with the Community Health Network. “What they really need is a healthy, balanced meal with lots of vitamins and minerals.”
Seniors 60 and older often have limited access to healthy foods, Spangler said, sometimes because it’s difficult to cook at home or their limited mobility makes regular trips to the store for fresh fruit and produce impossible.
But a new program at Community Hospital Anderson could help with that. This week, CHA will launch Touchpoint A La Carte, a program that distributes a total of 125 vouchers good for a meal in the hospital’s cafeteria on the first Wednesday of every month.
The program started with Community Hospital East in Indianapolis, but now includes South and Westview in Indianapolis and the Anderson campus following a grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation.
“They (seniors) can get healthy options like grilled chicken, fruit, yogurt, juice and there’s a salad bar,” said Shelley O’Connell, director of Touchpoint Integration for Community Health Network. “There are a lot of different options.”
The variety is empowering, she said, since it lets seniors decide for themselves what to eat.
Brilla Miller, a senior who plans to cash in on the voucher program, said she saw several dishes on the menu she can’t wait to try.
“A lot of it sounds really good; Healthy and tasty,” Miller said. “The best part is, I don’t have to cook it myself.”
Seniors can claim up to four vouchers a month and use them any day cafeteria is open, and meals can be carried out or eaten there.
“They’re not only going to get nutritious food, but they’ll get to interact socially,” Spangler said.
More importantly, the meals can help guide seniors to make healthy choices when they’re out on their own.
“When they see what options are available, they can use that info when they’re ordering in restaurants or shopping,” Spangler said. “They can look for similar items.”
Nutrition information is posted in the cafeteria for most food items, and diners can ask staff if they have any questions.
According to the National Institute on Aging, a healthy diet is especially important for seniors because it decreases the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer and anemia.
And if seniors already have one or more of these chronic diseases, “eating well and being physically active may help you better manage them,” according to the institute.
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