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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dinner Date program to celebrate 30 years

Thursday, March 21, 2002

If this were a wedding anniversary, they would be breaking out the pearls and diamonds at the Storm Lake Senior Center, because Dinner Date is still going strong after thirty years!

Dinner Date is celebrating thirty years of providing hot, nutritious meals to the elderly here at home and all across the nation, announced Cynthia Beauman, Executive Director of Northwest Aging Association.

Northwest Aging Association currently has 39 Dinner Date sites in nine counties in northwest Iowa, located in senior centers, community buildings, churches, and restaurants, noted Lynda Wilcox, Nutrition Director for Northwest Aging Association.

June Goldman was the first nutrition director for northwest Iowa. The name for the program, Dinner Date, was her brainchild. The first site was in Estherville, followed soon by Spencer and Spirit Lake. When asked what challenges she faced in starting the program, Goldman said that explaining the concept of the program was probably the biggest challenge, followed by finding suitable locations and incorporating the socialization aspect. "The program continues to do what it was intended to do and I wish more people would try it. The program is open to all, not just for people with specific income ranges," stresses Goldman.

Goldman has many humorous stories about the beginnings of the program. One of them is that the cooks were challenged to create recipes to disguise turkey roll, a frequent commodity that was sent to the program. Dinner Date no longer uses commodities and she feels this is an enhancement to the program.

The objectives of Dinner Date, a part of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program, are to provide healthy, appealing meals, promote health and prevent disease, reduce malnutrition risks and improve nutritional status, reduce social isolation and increase social interaction, and link older adults to other community-based services.

The OAA Nutrition Program is a proven success story according to United States Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. He stated that the program effectively targets older adults who are more likely to live alone and are at high nutritional risk. He further added that the program saves the nation billions of dollars in health care costs. Providing a year of home-delivered meals to help maintain the nutritional status of a homebound elderly person costs about the same as one day in the hospital according to Secretary Thompson.

Northwest Aging served 243,947 meals during the last fiscal year. Nationwide, almost 250,000,000 meals were served at the congregate meal settings.

Individuals age 60+ are eligible for meals at the Dinner Date sites on a contribution basis. These individuals are not required to pay for the meal but contributions do help defray the cost of the program and help ensure its continuance. Individuals under age 60 may eat a delicious, nutritious meal designed to meet 1/3 of the daily recommended dietary allow-ances for $5.31, the actual cost of the meal.

For more information, call Northwest Aging Association at 1-800-242.5033, or, visit your local Dinner Date Site. In Storm Lake, Dinner Date meals are served at the Senior Center, 525 Erie, Monday through Friday at noon. Meals are also available in the surrounding communities of Albert City, Sioux Rapids, and Linn Grove.

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