It’s all about encouraging people to create healthy eating behaviors and include physical activity into their daily lives.

That’s the main objective of National Nutrition Month in trying to educate the public on making food choices based on the latest scientific research.

In San Antonio, older adults still lag behind in many public health areas, including nutrition. Programs across the city are using the opportunity to highlight the importance that nutrition plays on their long-term health and quality of life. The City of San Antonio, for example, has implemented its Healthy, Eating, Aging, and Living (HEAL) program.

The program is responsible for the city’s “congregate meal program” serving adults 60 and older at 18 different sites across the city. They provide free lunchtime meals that meet current nutritional requirements as prescribed by the state of Texas and the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) and dietary reference intakes (DRIs).

For a program like the San Antonio Area Foundation’s Successfully Living and Aging in San Antonio (SALSA), National Nutrition Month provides an opportunity to branch out and connect even more resources in their network, which includes more than 50 local nonprofits..

One of SALSA’s top goals during National Nutrition Month is to highlight the overall theme of “Connections in Every Bite.” Aside from the meal program, which is naturally crucial, programs like HEAL and SALSA emphasize physical activity and social interaction for older adults.

“We wanted to make sure that we promote the idea that a healthy and nutritious meal is more than just a meal that nourishes the body, but also nourishes the person’s sense of connectedness to the community,” noted SALSA Program Coordinator Jo Ann Tobias-Molina.

“That is why we believe it is so important to promote the awareness of not only our senior nutrition meals at the senior centers, but also for people who can’t leave their home, such as Meals on Wheels recipients,” she added.

The city’s senior centers offer activities such as exercise classes, dance classes, bingo and more. That regular interaction is crucial to good nutrition, and it is a mission that is echoed by Meals on Wheels San Antonio (MOWSA).

“Nutrition awareness is so important for a variety of reasons,” explained Lauren Petley, nutritionist with MOWSA. “The more awareness that we raise, the more we’re talking about the importance of nutrition and what it looks like, the more educated we become. There is a science at the forefront of [nutrition] … I work to spread accurate information to our clients.” 

As the population of Baby Boomers continues to age, this large population – particularly in San Antonio – will face greater challenges with maintaining good nutrition. Many will face lack of access to quality food, access to grocery stores, mobility and even a lack of regular social interaction.

For many older adults who are MOWSA clients, the daily visit from their delivery person might be the only social interaction they get on a daily basis. It is a concern that organizations are keenly aware of and are actively working to do their part in alleviating.

Want to help advocate for our community’s older adults by contributing to SALSA and its growing network of nonprofit partners? Click here.

Eric Moreno is a contributor to the San Antonio Area Foundation’s Storytelling Ambassadors Network.