San Diego Food Bank makes senior nutrition a top priority with SONDAS

Through the Food Bank’s SONDAS (Solving Obesity and Nutritional Disease Affecting Seniors) Program, impoverished San Diego seniors receive the nutritious food they need, the nutritional education they lack and the personal support necessary to make lasting changes to their lifestyles. Guided by the experienced hand of the Food Bank’s Registered Dietitian, Jenna Olson (pictured in the photograph above), the SONDAS Program has seen the implementation of our first-ever nutrition curriculum specifically for seniors and increased the distribution of fresh produce to this targeted population. The series of workshops and presentations kicked off in March and covers a variety of topics that are relevant to our senior population including:

– Eating Healthy on a Budget
– Making Healthy Eating Part of Your Lifestyle
– How to Navigate a Grocery Store
– How to Incorporate Physical Activity at Home
– Steps to Shake the Salt and Sugar Habit

Attending seniors receive nutrition-related handouts of the material discussed in class as well as various recipe cards that often coincide with the fresh produce participants receive at three out of the six sessions.  Senior participants have shown eagerness to take steps to improve their lifestyle while attending these classes.  For example, seniors have reported that they are using the MyPlate guide for making meals for their grandchildren. While other anecdotal examples of the program’s positive impact include reports from participants that show they have created a meal plan reflecting a better, more well-rounded diet, have tried new fruits and vegetables that they have not tried before and some seniors even starting to work in their apartment complex’s garden a couple of times a week alongside neighbors.

The Food Bank’s SONDAS Program is part of a larger Senior Initiative that is an important component of our comprehensive efforts to address hunger and food insecurity throughout San Diego County.  In a very short time period, hundreds of seniors have added more fresh fruits and vegetables to their diets and received the relevant nutrition education that underlines the importance of eating right and regular physical activity.  As SONDAS continues, we expect to see thousands of seniors benefiting from the work of the Food Bank team and the healthy approach to aging they promote. The Food Bank’s senior nutrition education initiative is funded in part by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation and by a grant from The Walmart Foundation.

Interested in learning more about the SONDAS program, volunteering with the program or having the classes at your site? Contact Jenna Olson, RD for more information at 858-863-5197 or jolson@sandiegofoodbank.org.