CLEARFIELD – Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, Inc. announced that it will be participating in a special March for Meals celebration honoring the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program, the federal legislation that helps to fund community-based programs like Meals on Wheels.

Throughout the month of March, Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, Inc. will join the national Meals on Wheels network to raise awareness and rally support for this vital public-private partnership that has helped provide the seniors in Clearfield County with an essential service needed to remain healthy and independent at home.

CCAAA projects to deliver over 180,000 meals, including 3,144 Fresh meal kits. Those older adults in need of nutritious meals continues to increase and is projected to be even greater in the coming months. “We have been inspired by the outpouring of support, and there’s still much we can do to ensure everyone in need of this vital lifeline can benefit from being well-nourished and more connected to our community through this challenging time and beyond said Kathleen Gillespie, CEO of CCAAA “.

The annual March for Meals celebration commemorates the historic day in March of 1972 when President Nixon signed into law a measure that amended the Older Americans Act of 1965 to include a national nutrition program for seniors 60 years and older. This year, Meals on Wheels programs from across the country are joining forces for the awareness campaign to celebrate 50 years of success and garner the support needed to ensure these critical programs can continue to address food insecurity and malnutrition, combat social isolation, enable independence, and improve health for years to come.

“The Older Americans Act Nutrition Program is the only federally supported program designed to be an antidote for both senior hunger and isolation,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “Despite decades of proven success and bipartisan support, funding for this program has failed to keep pace with the rapidly growing need for its services. With the nation’s senior population increasing dramatically, now is the time to support local Meals on Wheels programs – through volunteering, donating and speaking out – to ensure we are able to deliver for another 50 years. “

Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, Inc.’s celebration includes the Clearfield County Commissioners signing a Proclamation Proclaiming March 2021 as the 20th Annual March for Meals, a video sharing information about Meals on Meals with quotes from our consumers, and an educational initiative via social media.

CCAAA has been supplying Blizzard Boxes since 1983, a program in its 40th year. In 1990, the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, and its partners at that time (up until about 5 years ago), the Clearfield Rotary Club, and the Clearfield & DuBois Dairy Queen owners, received a national Community Achievement Award from the US Administration on Aging naming the Clearfield Blizzard Box Program, “an outstanding public-private partnership.” It is now replicated by Area Agencies on Aging and service groups and organizations all across the United States. Daily, about 700 senior citizens in Clearfield County are served through the CCAAA’s Meals on Wheels & More program. Over the course of the winter, over 1000 different people will have been served Meals on Wheels & More. Each year, Blizzard Boxes are provided to every one of these meal recipients. This year, funding from the following sponsors was donated toward this program: the Stoltz Family Dealerships of DuBois, Appalachian Wood, Clearfield United Way, Meshach Recovery Center, Inc., ABED-NEGO Outreach Mission, Winburne Presbyterian Church Deacons, and Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie # 812 of Clearfield. The fundraising campaign for Blizzard Boxes officially kicks off in August, but donations can be sent at any time or made online at www.ccaaa.net.

Last year, a grant received from Meals on Wheels of America provided funding to work with Morrison Living to create “senior friendly” meal kits called “Made Fresh with Love Meal Kits”. The purpose is to provide not just a nutritious meal, but also an “experience” for people to reap the benefits of creating, producing, and participating in meal preparation. The kits contain preparation directions and some educational tidbits on the importance of a balanced diet and the positive impacts of healthy fresh produce, etc. Numerous recipients, including grandparents raising grandchildren, older adult couples, and family caregivers are currently receiving these meals kits. At this time, twenty (20) “grand families” with 36 grandchildren, are gaining exposure to and understanding of healthy foods and eating habits. Elderly couples or individuals who may experience cognitive impairment benefit from the food prep, as the aroma of cooking food stimulates appetite and a feeling of well-being. Family caregivers also benefit from meals kits as a culinary educational tool in cooking nutritious meals. We project delivering 3,144 meal kits by the end of this fiscal year (June 30th).

For more information on how you can volunteer, contribute, or speak out for the seniors in Clearfield County this March, visit www.ccaaa.net.

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