Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: The Heritage 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 Heritage Area Agency on Aging's Encore Café program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Innovations Award winner in the Nutrition category.
The Encore Café program was created to liven up the traditional congregate meal dining experience for older adults in its community. The Heritage Area Agency on Aging accomplished this by hosting its congregate meals for older adults in interesting spaces like libraries and arts venues and offering additional menu options. The AAA also updated the dining experience by adding cooking demonstrations and inviting dieticians to the meal locations.
According to agency, the most successful part of the program has been in identifying participants who had a high nutrition risk and providing them with additional resources and services such as nutrition counseling, evidence-based programming and supplemental food. Approximately 30 percent of Encore Café participants are at high nutrition risk and at an Encore Café held in August, 47 percent of attendees were deemed to be at high nutrition risk, which has allowed the AAA to provide additional support to older adults who receive meals.
Another exciting element of the Encore Café is that one of the program's newest sites is located in a food desert that is surrounded by low-income senior housing. This location has the highest percentage of high nutrition risk participants, but also has the highest amount of voluntary contributions per meal.
For AAAs interested in starting a similar program, the Agency suggests having a great deal of flexibility and adaptability, keeping an open mind and thinking of community partners that might not be called upon as regularly as some others, working with the local elected officials to keep them updated on the program. The AAA also suggests holding a “soft” opening to test out the new concept to older adults before fully launching.
To learn more Heritage Area Agency on Aging's Encore Café program, contact Tim Getty
Want to learn more about the 2019 AIA Innovations winners? REGISTER NOW for our 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!