Topics on Aging

By Juan Gallo

How the Nutrition Services Program is Changing in Broward County

July 10, 2023

How the Nutrition Services Program is Changing in Broward County

As of July 1, Heart2Heart is a subcontractor for a federally funded program that delivers meals to local seniors in need. 

This development represents a big change for us. We’re moving into a larger office and hiring new staff to accommodate the expansion of our services. 

It’s also a big change for Broward County seniors who have been receiving these meals. Up until now, the Older Americans Act Nutrition Services Program in this community was administered by Meals on Wheels South Florida, as it had been since 1984. 

As Heart2Heart embarks on this new journey, I think it’s important to explain what we’re doing and how it all works. 

Let’s start at the federal level and work our way down to our own community. 

What is the Older Americans Act?

The Older Americans Act (OAA) was signed into federal law in 1965 as a way to fill the gap in social services for older citizens. To oversee the new programs, the act established the Administration on Aging. 

Essentially, the Administration on Aging distributes funding through a national network of state and area agencies. Almost every community in the United States has its own agency on aging (or a federally funded service provider) to ensure local seniors get the help they need. 

Does Broward County have an agency on aging?

Yes! If you’re a senior in Broward County and request services, those services most likely come through the Area Agency on Aging of Broward County, even if you weren’t aware of it. 

In Florida, there are 11 area agencies on aging. Each agency operates as an Aging and Disability Resource Center, meaning they coordinate long-term care services for seniors AND for younger residents who live with a disability. So our agency on aging is sometimes called ADRC Broward

Of the 11 agencies in Florida, Broward County is the only agency that covers just one county. 

There are two other South Florida agencies. The Area Agency on Aging of Palm Beach/Treasure Coast covers Palm Beach County up to Indian River and Okeechobee counties.

The Alliance for Aging helps seniors in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. 

What is the OAA Nutrition Services Program?

In 1972, a few years after the Administration on Aging was up and running, the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program was signed into law. It was designed to provide healthy meals and health resources to older adults. 

The program provides home-delivered meals, which is what Heart2Heart is now helping to provide. 

It also created what are called congregate meals, where seniors gather in a center to eat a meal. The idea there is that seniors, who would otherwise be isolated, are socializing on top of getting a nutritious meal.

How is the meal delivery program changing in Broward County?

The Area Agency on Aging of Broward County (AAABC) delivers meals to about 700 seniors a week through its Nutrition Services Program. Many more seniors are on the waiting list. 

Since the program existed in Broward, AAABC has contracted those deliveries through Meals on Wheels.

However, in its last Request for Proposals, AAABC outlined a goal to provide more meal options and a “wide variety of food choices that include nutritionally sound, tasty and culturally diverse foods.”

Last month, the agency announced that the contract for the home-delivered meals was awarded to four companies: Offerdahl’s Off-The-Grill, Sterling Group Foods, Sushi Maki Catering and United HomeCare. 

When seniors sign up for the service, they now have a choice in what kind of meals they receive. 

This is the first time the state of Florida has offered a choice of meal services. Broward County is fortunate to be participating in this pilot program.  

What is Heart2Heart’s role in this change?

Heart2Heart is a subcontractor for two of the four home-delivered meal providers. That means if seniors choose Offerdahl’s Off-The-Grill and Sushi Maki, Heart2Heart will call to provide outreach and assess their referral. 

It means we have expanded our impact as we provide case management for hundreds of seniors each month.

We’re up to the challenge! Last year’s success with Food for Hope — a partnership with Offerdahl’s Off-The-Grill to deliver 10,000 meals 60 to seniors using funding from StrikeForce421 — paved the way for this new opportunity. 

In my next blog, I’ll discuss our vision for our expanded outreach and how you can get involved. 

My hope is that this article provides a foundational understanding of how services are provided to seniors. 
So, what did you learn? What other questions do you have? Email me your thoughts at jgallo@heart2heartoutreach.org.

Read more about:
Juan Gallo
Juan Gallo is the CEO of Heart2Heart Outreach, where he oversees the mobilization of volunteers to provide hope, share love and restore purpose to the lives of the aging population across South Florida.

He also serves as a local pastor and as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, where he is teaching a course on diversity and aging. Juan has a master’s degree in counseling and psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor intern.

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Juan Gallo

This blog is a frank conversation about what it means to age in our society.

I want us to consider what a wider range of diverse experiences when we talk about aging. I want to reflect on how we, as a community, want our neighbors and our mothers and fathers and our grandparents to live out their latter decades of life. I want us to consider each one of their voices as we strive to meet their needs.

Join me for weekly discussions about what it means to be a senior in South Florida and how we can and should respond to the growing needs of the aging population.

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