Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2019 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging's Campus Dining Program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Innovations Award winner in the Nutrition category.

What do college students and older adults have in common? A lot more than you might think! A unique intergenerational program from Ohio District 4 Area Agency on Aging connects older adults and college students at an on-campus congregate meal site. The AAA partnered with Ohio State University at Mansfield and North Central State College to develop The Campus Dining Program that provided older adults with access to fresh food, social interaction with individuals across generations, mentorship and a chance to become a part of the college community.

Hosting the Campus Dining Program on The Ohio State University and North Central State College's dual campus allowed the AAA to connect older adults to life on a college campus. Now, older adults from multiple counties are spending time on campus, attending events and immersing themselves into the campus community. For program participants, the congregate meal site isn't only a place to eat, it is a place to socially engage, interact with others and develop a meaningful connection to a community.

The program offers much more than a meal to its participants. Because the program is geared towards lower-income older adults, eating at the on-campus congregate meal site is an opportunity to go “out to eat” that they may not have been able to afford otherwise.

The program has had a meaningful impact on the community, especially for adults aged 60-74. During the pilot program from September 2017 to May 2018, 2,192 meals were served to 365 individuals from six of the nine counties in the AAA's service area, with 63 percent of participants being age 60–74.

Interested in starting a similar program for your AAA? The Ohio District 5 AAA has a few suggestions. While it is important to identify funding sources and locate the right college or university in your area, marketing the on-campus congregate meal site to baby boomers is also crucial for the program's success. The team also suggests implementing evidence-based programming like Healthy U or Matter of Balance on campus to reach older adults not currently being served. The last integral piece of the puzzle is to partner with the college or university to develop intergenerational programs that both older adults and students can participate in. Ohio District 5 AAA's recipe yielded success and there is a great chance it will lead to success for your agency!
To learn more about Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging's Campus Dining Program, contact Duana Patton, CEO at

Want to learn more about the 2019 AIA Innovations winners? REGISTER NOW for our new four-part webinar series, n4a Lunchtime Innovations, to hear your peers' secrets to success for these award-winning programs.
For more information about the 2019 winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!



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!