Pilot program will measure correlation between healthy breakfast and overall improved health
SACRAMENTO- The River City Food Bank is launching a pilot program at Sacramento’s Park Place Senior Residency to determine if providing a healthy breakfast to low-income seniors will improve their overall health.
The idea for the Most Important Meal Program stems from information acquired through focus groups River City Food Bank facilitated with vulnerable seniors in 2012 and 2013. Among other findings, seniors shared that they often do not eat breakfast because they do not have any food.
“These discussions with the seniors was so disturbing because the repercussions are so great, “ says Eileen Thomas, Executive Director of the River City Food Bank. “Hungry seniors going without breakfast can lead to weakness, depression, falls and premature decline.
With the help of a residence committee at Park Place Senior Living, owned by Ray Stone Inc., breakfast bags will be distributed weekly. The bag will contain a variety of healthy items that could include fresh fruit, cereal, whole wheat breads, peanut butter, nutrition bars, yogurt, shelf milk and juice.
Sutter Health is also a partner in the Most Important Meal Program. They will send medical teams out to conduct before and after screening of basic vital statistics and weight during the six-month program to acquire accurate data. There is however the unquantifiable variable that is also a goal of the program: Seniors simply feeling better throughout the day.
“We hope our Most Important Meal Program leads to better outcomes for these seniors, and provides solid science for researchers and advocacy groups who will take this pilot program and scale it up to help all seniors too poor to eat more than one meal a day,” says Thomas.
Dietitians say that consuming food in the morning to ‘break the fast’ of the night is especially important to seniors because, in the absence of fresh sources of calories, their bodies will draw upon stored energy in muscle tissue, leading to increased weakness and falls.
Senior hunger is a pressing issue and on the increase. According to Thomas, every day for the next six years, 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 in this country, so there is an urgency to discover best practices for low-income seniors and put those practices into place.