Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc.

Learn how this agency developed a Saturday brunch meal program held at a housing facility for disabled veterans, which helped mitigate malnutrition and improve health and nutrition for a vulnerable population. 

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2020 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc.'s Saturday brunch meal program for veterans. The agency was a 2020 Aging Achievement Award winner in the Nutrition category. The 2020 AIA Awards were made possible thanks to the support of Centene.
After the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio worked with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other partners to build an apartment community with 75 units of permanent supportive housing for veterans who were homeless and disabled on the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio's campus, staff realized many of the residents were going to a local gas station to purchase food for meals not provided by the senior center on campus. To reduce the reliance on low quality gas-station food, the AAA held focus groups and ultimately developed a Saturday brunch meal program held at the housing facility to fill this nutritional gap.
“Participants expressed that they enjoyed sharing a meal with others who have similar histories and current situations. Nutritious food is difficult to obtain in their current residence and this helps a great deal,” said Rebecca Liebes, Vice President, Nutrition, Health and Wellness at the Area Office on Aging.
More than 50 veterans reported reduced social isolation and increased nutrition status thanks to the Saturday brunch. They spend more time eating hot, nourishing meals designed by a licensed dietitian and gain access to information about other programs and services offered by the AAA and in the community.
“Knowing that those who fought to maintain our freedom are now being honored with a nourishing meal that impacts their health and well-being is very satisfying,” Liebes added.
When COVID-19 hit, communal meals were no longer allowable due to safety and exposure precautions. Therefore, the agency converted all participants and residents who expressed a need to a home-delivered meal model, in which they receive five frozen, well-balanced meals per week.
To learn more about the Saturday brunch program and how you can replicate a similar program in your community, contact Billie Johnson, and Rebecca Liebes,
For more information about the 2020 winners, see the press release and read the book of winners! To read about past winners and find other best practices for your agency to consider, visit our Best Practices Clearinghouse page.



USAging Fact: Learn about your peers’ work—and how it can fit into your agency’s goals! The AIA Awards recognizes successful and innovative programs that USAging members have developed to serve older adults. Get inspiration from our 2023 winners!