March is National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and celebrated annually in March. The campaign focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. In addition, National Nutrition Month® promotes the Academy and its members to the public and the media as the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information.  This year's theme is "Go Further with Food," a reminder to eat healthfully for ongoing energy and plan meals and snacks in advance to help reduce food loss and waste.

In SFY 2017, the Iowa Department on Aging's nutrition program served 20,628 older Iowans at congregate meal sites and delivered meals to 11,835 older Iowans in their homes. A total of 2,233,301 meals were served.

Congregate and home-delivered meals improve the nutritional health of meal participants. In particular, they increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and dairy foods. FY 2016 data showed that 25% of congregate meal participants were at high nutrition risk, but after participating in the congregate meals program, 60% of those individuals improved their nutrition risk scores. Similarly, 59% of home-delivered meal participants were at high nutrition risk, but 46% of those individuals improved their nutrition risk score after participating in the home-delivered meals program.

In addition to helping individuals eat better, the nutrition program also helps older Iowans maintain their independence. Currently, more than 20 percent of Iowa's home-delivered meal participants report two or more Activities of Daily Living impairments, which might qualify them to live in a nursing facility.