Staying Healthy program to provide free restaurant meals to seniors


COLUMBUS — Last week, the Ohio Department of Aging announced a new partnership with local area agencies on aging and restaurants throughout Ohio to provide free meals to older Ohioans who are unable to prepare meals and lack meal support at home or in their communities.

The department developed the Staying Healthy program with funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Local restaurants participating in the program receive reimbursement from these funds for the meals they provide to eligible participants.

“This program serves three purposes,” ODA Director Ursel McElroy said. “It spurs local investment in an economic sector significantly impacted by COVID-19; it increases small-business restaurant investment; and it meets the increased demand of older adults needing nutrition services.”

The short-term program is designed to serve older adults with the greatest economic and social need. It places special emphasis on low-income older adults. It also focuses on older Ohioans living in rural areas; those with severe disabilities; those with limited English-speaking ability; and those with Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders.

Participating restaurants must have 50 or fewer employees, be able to produce meals that meet industry-standard nutritional guidelines, and deliver meals to participants, either directly or through community partners. Meals may be hot, cold, or frozen entrees and are available for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Staying Healthy program or nutrition services for older adults can contact their area agency on aging. Call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving a local community or visit www.aging.ohio.gov/findservices to look up agency contact information.

Staying Healthy is a companion initiative to the Staying Connected daily phone check-in service the department launched in May.

For more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.