Over the past year or so, we have been writing about new tools that NFESH has developed and deployed as part of our What A Waste and REACH projects. These tools are about discovery. NFESH cannot help State Units on Aging, Area Agencies on Aging and Congregate Nutrition Programs find solutions to senior hunger unless we know exactly where the problems lie.
Senior Hunger is not a simple issue with one solution. It is complex and its causes are not always the same in every town or region or state.
Over the past 6 years, NFESH has worked in 75 senior centers in 12 states. During that time, we’ve continued to develop new tools that are designed to collect different sets of data. We do this because every time we find an answer, we end up asking two more questions. Our work in Congregate Nutrition Programs started with looking at food waste. It then expanded to looking at nutrient loss. Then to client contributions. Now we are performing community scans of the built environment, demographic studies of the community versus client make-up (with hunger risk factors as an overlay), as well as ethnographic studies of the seniors who are being served themselves.
There are times that we wish we could go back and use our new tools in some of the locations where we first tested What A Waste. This week, we are thrilled to share that: you can go home again. On August 13th and 14th NFESH will be kicking off What A Waste/REACH projects in York, PA and Norristown, PA.
Since completing a very successful What A Waste project in nine Congregate Nutrition Programs throughout Pennsylvania in 2017, NFESH has been working with the PA Department of Aging (PDA) to figure out a way to replicate the positive outcomes of the original project and bring our new tools to bear. PDA made What A Waste/REACH available to Congregate Nutrition Programs through its competitive Senior Center Grant Program and two locations submitted successful proposals.
The White Rose Senior Center in York, PA, and Montco SAAC Center in Norristown, PA, are diverse communities where seniors enjoy more than good nutrition. They have access to wonderful recreational, educational and social programming. They look forward to using What A Waste/REACH as a tool to be able to serve more seniors in need in their communities. The seniors are ready to learn about how food waste affects everything from their health to the environment. And staff members are eager to learn how to use technology to collect data that will help them plan for a future where all seniors who need and want their services will be able access them.
We can’t wait to get started…and to report back on progress. We know it will be a fruitful endeavor, because NFESH and PA Congregate Nutrition Programs working together have the track record to show that. Take a look at the highlights of what we have accomplished when we do.
Highlights of 2016-2017 What A Waste PA Project
- All nine participating sites reduced their daily food waste
- The average daily reduction of food waste was 37%
- Community partnerships were created to start composing and gardening programs
- Seniors consumed a higher percentage of nutrients
- Voluntary contributions increased by >20%