Literature Review and Checklist: Improving Food Security and Nutrition for Seniors in BC through Community Food Programs (Released June 2021)

Michael MacNeil, CBSS Nutritional Supports Working Group
From United Way
Description / Summary

It has become clear, particularly within the Community-Based Seniors’ Services (CBSS) sector, that many community-based seniors (i.e., seniors living independently in their communities) are experiencing or are at risk for food insecurity and malnutrition in British Columbia. This (1) literature review examines the current challenges associated with these issues, outlines some best practices suggested in the literature to address them, and identifies current approaches taken by community-based programs in British Columbia (BC). Best practices for community-based seniors food programs include: conducting a Community Food Assessment; screening individual seniors for food insecurity and malnutrition; adopting a holistic nutrition approach; planning programs that fill a gap in service and consider the existing mix of food initiatives in the community; considering known motivators for seniors’ participation; integrating social interaction opportunities, mealtime practices, and education components; and developing community partnerships. Appendix A lists and describes the types of community food programs that currently exist in BC and includes examples of each. Appendix C briefly highlights new challenges to food security as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. This literature review is accompanied by a concise checklist (see attached) which outlines the best practices in a step-by-step format.

The accompanied (2) checklist provides step-by-step guidance for community-based programs to improve food security and nutrition for community-based seniors in British Columbia. It was developed using the key findings provided in an accompanied literature review (see attached); the checklist compliments the literature review’s ‘Recommendations’ section. The steps provided in this checklist can be considered best or promising practices for community-based programs looking to address seniors’ food insecurity and malnutrition. CBSS (Community-Based Seniors’ Services) agencies are encouraged to consider these steps when planning a new food program or to enhance elements of an existing one.

A webinar was hosted on June 1st, 2021 to provide an overview of these 2 documents. To watch the recorded webinar, click here.