Studies of late life clearly link adequate nutrition to the well-being and life satisfaction of elderly persons.
At the same time food costs are rising considerably, and for people on limited, fixed expenditure ia almost inevitable. Moreover, when people live alone, as many elders do, there is a common tendency to pay less attention to the daily diet.
In respone to this situation, area offices on aging provide nutrition programs by which the elderly can get a nutritious meal along with good fellowhsip at nominal cost or, in some cases, free of charge. These programs are operated under Title VII provisions of the Older Americans Act of 1965 as amended.
The Montgomery County program, refered to as "Lunch and Fun," operates weekdays on a two-hour schedule including an activity period. Publicity for the program states, "For persons 60 years and older - spouse of any age - suggested contribution 40 cents." There are eight sites in operation in Silver Spring, Germantown, Kensington, Rockville, Takoma Park and Bethesda Reservations are required. One day in advance, and can be made by calling 279-1370.
On a recent week the Montagomery County menu offered on succesive days turkey a-la-king over steamed rice; staek and cheese on a steak ; tender oven-fried chicken and quiche loraine. The menu includes a vegetable, salad, desert, rolls of bread and beverage. Fruit appears on the menu in one form or another.
According to the current Montgomery County area plan, which contains a review of the 1977 fiscal year operation. "89.280 meals were served to 1.297 unduplicated persons" (and still) "there is greater need for nutrition sites than there are available resources."
The Prince George's County nutrition program operates in nine location where senior citizens congregate for a noon meal and activities. Programs are located in Langley Park, North Brentwood, Farimont Heights, Oxon Hill, Brandywine, Croom, Glenarden, Bowie and College Park. Their program announcement reads, "Food and Friendship (The Perfect Pair). Won't you join us for Hot Meals, Activities; Age 60 and over." Reservations arerequired and can be made by calling 350-0650.
A visit to a center tells far more about the nutrition program than the formal announcement can. On a recent Friday noon, 28 elderly persons, about two-third women, attended the program at the Boys and Girls Club of Langley Park located at 1515 Merrimac Dr. They came on their own. A few drive, and bring others. Some walk. William Jensen walks but is often picked up on the way by a friend who knows his route. In the meeting room there was a buzz of conversation. On signal, about half participated in a mild exercise program led by Helen Nitkowski, who prepared herself for this role by taking a course at the Prince George's Community College on fitness for senior citizens.
The hostess for this center is Idalia Garcia. She calls in the reservations in advance so that the exact number of meals needed is delivered. With help from the group, she serves the individual lunches. After lunch, on most days, there is a planned a movie, a speaker, or arts and craft activities. AS Ruth Von Nessen explained, "This is so much better than being alone."
On the same day 40 persons atended the program at the Holly Hall Center, 10100 New Hampshire Ave., Hillandale. Florence Parker is the site manager at this center located in a pleasant and cool basement room. She is assisted by several volunteers including Lottie Glick, who calls in every morning to give the number of reservations for lunch. She said that while a majority of participants are residents of the 99-apartment public housing project where the nutrition center is located, some always come from outside, regulary or once or twice a week.
Parker had great praise for the program, listing "good food, attractive room, interesting programs" as benefits in addition to the nominal cost, which is itself not mandatory.