By Jacob Mulliken Messenger-Inquirer Sep 29, 2020 

The Green River Area Development District has been awarded the 2020 Aging Achievement Award for its Frozen Meals for Homebound Seniors program.

The award was announced by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging at the association’s n4a Virtual Conference & Tradeshow on Sept. 22. GRADD was one of 44 local aging programs to receive honors at the conference.

The Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards recognize aging programs that develop and implement cutting-edge approaches to support older adults, people with disabilities and their family caregivers. Among the selection criteria was the ease with which other agencies could replicate the program in their communities, said Jennifer Williams, GRADD director for aging & social services.

“We are already working with other state Area Development Districts that are interested in replicating the program,” she said. “Pre-COVID, other ADDs came down and watched how we did things at the senior center and how it is organized.”

Through GRADD’s Frozen Meals for Homebound Seniors program, two to three meals are delivered to more than 75 homebound seniors as a supplement to the home-delivered meals they receive throughout the week. In all, more than 10,000 frozen meals have been delivered to “vulnerable” seniors at an estimated value of more than $75,000. Especially during COVID-19, that interaction with food delivery drivers is key, she said

“Even having folks visit the homes to drop off the food adds an extra sense of security and interaction,” she said. “Some of these people only see the drivers, so it is vital for these seniors because they are so isolated, even before COVID. Isolation and food insecurity have doubled and joined together to become a deadly combination.”

The program is a collaborative effort between GRADD, Owensboro Health Regional Hospital and the Owensboro-Daviess County Senior Community Center. In addition to helping vulnerable seniors, the program also reduces food waste in conjunction with OH cafeteria provider Morrison Health’s Waste Not program, she said.

“Our partners made this program a success, they are the boots on the ground,” she said. “These partnerships address the critical need of food insecurity among older adults,” she said. “Good nutrition is especially vital to the overall health and wellbeing of older adults. Meeting this basic need allows vulnerable seniors to focus their limited resources on other needs, such as medication and utilities.”

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com.