Thrive Alliance and other area agencies on aging statewide to help seniors get fruits and veggies year-round with the goal of lowering the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure

Low-income seniors across the state aren’t getting enough to eat, and many don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Half of Indiana seniors report having trouble eating healthy, which causes an increased risk of chronic diseases and reduced quality of life.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation recently awarded a $4.4 million Connecting Older Hoosiers with Healthful Foods grant to the IAAAA Education Institute, Inc.

Findings from a 2021 Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults, showed a concerning trend in Indiana: About half of older adults reported a lack of accessible, affordable quality food.

Each of the area agencies on aging will partner with local food banks, food pantries and producers to obtain fresh produce, which will be provided to participating seniors at senior meal sites or as part of home-delivered meals. Seniors also will receive information and tips on preparing healthy meals.

Thrive Alliance is incorporating this generous gift into its Nutrition program by providing congregate meal program participants to add additional whole fruits and vegetables to their regular diets. Through the program, we will learn whether the addition of healthful whole foods has any impact on the participants’ health indicators such as weight, blood pressure, A1C levels, diagnoses such as diabetes and heart disease, and community longevity.

Connecting Older Hoosiers with Healthful Foods is a collaboration among the area agencies on aging, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, its 11 food bank members and the Indiana University Center for Aging Research (IUCAR).