As part of Nutrition Month, we want to highlight our Senior Nutrition classes.
Each day, our Registered Dietitian, Caroline Pullen, works to ensure the people we serve lead the healthy, active lifestyles they deserve. Whether through nutrition lessons, healthy, cost-effective recipes or cooking classes, she provides resources for those struggling with hunger to eat better and make their money go further.
Seniors face unique medical and mobility challenges that put them at a greater risk of hunger. After a lifetime of hard work, many find themselves struggling with health issues on fixed incomes. We address the particular challenges of senior hunger through interventions that take into account the health status, medication needs, physical limitations and dietary restrictions of older Americans.
Monday through Friday, seniors in need receive a hot and nutritious lunch at their Senior Tower or local community center. Caroline visits Metro Social Services’ feeding sites for nutrition lessons to accompany these meals.
These interactive classes are tailored to meet the unique needs of seniors. Seniors have higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. They also have different nutrient needs, and many are learning to cook for one or cook for themselves for the first time. Caroline includes an interactive game and a cooking demonstration. Some recent topics include: hidden sources of sodium, reading food labels, cooking for one, increasing protein, mindful eating, and boosting vegetable intake.
This month, Caroline is focusing on shopping on a budget. At a recent lesson, participants were broken into groups and asked to compare unit labels on different grocery store items. They then presented to the group which items the found to be cheaper. Purchasing in season, store-brand, or frozen and canned produce are all ways to save money.
She ended the lesson with a quick cooking demonstration making a stir fry out of frozen vegetables. Seniors were amazed that they could make a healthy and delicious meal in just 10 minutes!
“Through these classes, I hope seniors will learn about nutrition, how to improve their diet-related diseases, and feel confident to start cooking more frequently,” Caroline says.
A healthy life starts with healthy food. That’s why we provide seniors in need with wholesome meals and nutrition education to help them stay healthy. It’s just part of how we help solve hunger. We hope you will join us in recognizing Nutrition Month in honor of the 1 in 7 Tennesseans who lack access to enough healthy food for an active, healthy lifestyle.