(Aging) Food and Nutrition Programs
There are a variety of food and nutrition programs offered through the Aging Network in Montana. They are funded by federal Older Americans Act and USDA funds, state and local dollars and client contributions.
The main goal of the programs is to enable older adults to remain healthy and independent, living in their homes and communities. Additional benefits include:
- Promoting health and prevent disease;
- Reducing malnutrition risk and improve nutritional status;
- Reducing social isolation; and
- Linking older adults to community services
- Those eligible for services include:
- A person aged 60 years of age and older;
- A spouse of any age who resides with the eligible senior;
- A disabled person residing with a person 60 years of age or older; and
- Disabled individuals who reside in housing facilities for the elderly where a congregate site exists are eligible for congregate meals;
- Others may participate, but must pay the full cost of the meal.
Congregate Meals Program
Montana has about 170 congregate meal sites around the state. The majority of these sites are senior centers, but churches, fraternal organizations, nursing homes, and restaurants also serve as meal sites. Meals must comply with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Each site determines the frequency of meals served per week. Over 1,000,000 congregate meals are served annually to over 25,000 people. For more information, contact your local Area Agency on Aging at (800) 551-3191.
Home Delivered Meals
Home delivered meals are targeted to those older adults who are unable to get to meal sites for a congregate meal. The vast majority of home delivered meals are served hot, but they can be delivered cold, frozen, dried, canned, or as supplemental foods. Meals must comply with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Each site determines the frequency of meals served per week. Over 600,000 home delivered meals are served annually to about 6,500 people. For more information, contact your local Area Agency on Aging at (800) 551-3191.
Nutrition Education Programs
Aging meal sites provide nutrition education that promotes better health by providing accurate and culturally sensitive nutrition, physical fitness, or health (as it relates to nutrition) information and instruction to participants. For more information, contact your local Area Agency on Aging at (800) 551-3191.
Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)
This USDA program provides food to adults 60 years of age and over, and WIC families with children age 5 to 6 years old. It provides a box of 30 pounds of food per month. Older adults must meet income requirements - 130% of federal poverty level eligibility guidelines (2021) – $1,395 for one or $1,887 for a couple. Currently there are about 7,000 people being served under this program, the vast majority of them are older adults. Services are delivered through a variety of organizations, including senior centers and food banks. For more information, contact: your local Area Agency on Aging at (800) 551-3191.
Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).
This USDA program serves seniors 60 years of age and over. Older adults must meet income requirements - 185% of federal poverty level (2021) $1,986 monthly for one person or $2,686 for a couple. Currently, about 1700 people are being served. Clients receive coupons to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and raw honey that are grown in Montana. Applications become available in early June of each year and can only be redeemed at the participating farmers’ markets.
There are currently 13 distribution site (23 communities) and their markets that are participating in the program: these include Anaconda, Billings (southside market), Bozeman and nearby Gallatin area, Butte, Great Falls, Helena & East Helena, Lake County Markets including Arlee, Polson, Ronan and St. Ignatius, Lincoln County communities of Eureka, Troy & Libby, Livingston, Manhattan, Miles City, Missoula County area Markets, Seeley Lake, Ravalli County communities of Darby, Hamilton, Stevensville & Florence, Red Lodge and Townsend. Local coalitions, which include senior centers, County Councils, Area Agencies on Aging, food banks and market masters, operate the programs in the participating areas. Older adults who are interested in applying for the SFMNP program coupons are encouraged to contact the local agencies in their area.
Farmers interested in accepting senior coupons during the Farmers’ Markets in the participating areas are required to complete an agreement and take part in a brief annual training. For more information on this program and Farmer training, contact Jackie Stoeckel at the State Office on Aging at (800) 332-2272 during normal business hours.
The Aging Services Bureau contracts with Karen Shevlin, a Registered Dietitian from Helena, to offer consultations regarding nutrition issues relating to older adults, food safety issues at senior meal sites and other related health issues with any of the above listed providers.
For more information, contact: Jackie Stoeckel, MT State Office on Aging, Jstoeckel@mt.gov or at (800) 332-2272 during normal business hours.