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How One Area Agency on Aging is Leading the Way

Deputy Secretary Merrigan and Farmers Market staff in Charlottesville.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan far left shares a humors moment with , Local Food Hub Director Marisa Vrooman, USDA Rural Development State Director Ellen Davis, Local Food Hub Director Kate Collier and Local Food Hub staffer, Alan Moore.

“The Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) are myth-busters, plain and simple,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan at a recent funding announcement held at JABA’s main office and Adult Daycare Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Deputy Secretary went on to say, “They show us all that you can utilize locally grown food for meals on a daily basis and actually improve the quality of nutrition for those participating in the daily meal delivery programs.”

The USDA assistance being provided through the Farmers Market Promotion Program was one of 77 totaling more than $4 million nationwide that were announced by the Deputy Secretary Thursday, October 14th.

JABA will be receiving a $54,800 grant from USDA to conduct a feasibility study on constructing a frozen food operation in the central Virginia area using locally sourced and Virginia-grown food for individual frozen meals and bulk frozen produce for their non-profit meal programs.

JABA’s goal is to produce its own meals for approximately 50,000 Home Delivery recipients in and around the Charlottesville area. They also have a goal of supplying other area agencies on aging with individual frozen meals and providing bulk frozen local produce to other institutional meal programs.

A key partner in this vision is the Local Food Hub, a Charlottesville nonprofit located just a few miles from JABA. The Local Food Hub works on a daily basis to supply JABA, along with over 35 area restaurants with locally grown foods.

Gordon Walker, CEO for JABA added, “Meals will be sourced locally from area farmers, be nutritionally balanced, and tastefully seasoned without salt and sugar so as to offer a delicious healthy meal that can be tailored for those seniors requiring alternative meals and those on restricted diets.”

When the study is complete and if feasible, JABA intends to pursue assistance from USDA Rural Development to build the facility and in addition to providing nutritional meals to seniors, create new jobs in the fresh foods industry for the region.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan announces funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program at an event in Virginia

Deputy Secretary Merrigan announces funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program at an event in Virginia

3 Responses to “How One Area Agency on Aging is Leading the Way”

  1. Robert Bornstein says:

    What a wonderful program. As a horticulture therapist I am always advocating for fresh vegetables and fruits at the senior facilities I work at. There is too much canned processed food served at these facilities because it’s cheap. Meanwhile the seniors are getting sicker due to poor quality of food served. The companies have shareholder’s profits ahead of quality.

  2. Dennis Coma says:

    This program is vital for the low income senior citizens. Most of these people in my area barely have enough money to last them through the month. In the third year of its inception, the people in my county didn’t even know about the program until I attended a webinar on the subject. Doing the research on it, I contacted USDA in Washington DC about the program and they referred me to the Department of Social and Health Services. I called the Administrator of the program and she said she didn’t really know anything about because they contracted it out to the Area on Aging. I called the executive of that organization and they told me that they really didn’t have that information but referred me to the executive director of Coastal Community Action Services that they sub contracted to. Three long years before we knew that the program existed. My point being, the Dept of Social & Health services kept X amount of money for administrative purposes. Area on Aging kept X amount of money for administrative purposes before it got to the NGO who actually promulgated the program in our area. Money ran out before it was supposed to and the last month, there was no fruits and vegetables available. Why does the state and Area on Aging keep money out of the program for administrative purposes when they don’t know what they are administring. All of the money should have gone to the NGO that actually provided all the services. I don’t know if that happens in all states, but the State of Washington does exactly that. None of the farmers in our area care about the program, our farmers market is not certified by the State Health Dept. and all fresh fruits and vegetables are transported by truck from eastern Washington to Western Washington for our area.

  3. Margie Skibinsko says:

    What an amazing program! We serve the elderly through our local AAA and know first hand that there is a tremendous need for healthy food. Keep up the great work!

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