Gaining Reliable Access to Affordable, Nutritious Food

Five older people enjoying lunch together

September is national Hunger Action Month. An action I’ve chosen to take is a deeper dive into nutrition services funded by Aging and Disability Services (ADS). I want to help AgeWise readers understand the array of services ADS funds and where those services can be found, so you can tell friends and family. While I’m at it, I want you to know how you can make a difference.

Two home-delivered meal providers

Among the many services provided by Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle and King County, one of the best known is home-delivered meals—known generically as Meals on Wheels.

Last month, ADS announced new funding for home-delivered meals for older adults who are unable to leave their homes unassisted and/or unable to prepare meals for themselves, and who do not have a social support system to help them. The awards went to:

I am impressed that these programs collaborate to ensure that a variety of culturally and nutritionally appropriate meal options are available to all clients, and I know that even a brief social contact between deliverer and client can make a world of difference.

A Hunger Action Month tip: You can help by donating your time and talent. For information about volunteering with Chicken Soup Brigade, click here. For information about volunteering with Meals on Wheels, click here.

Community meals for older people

Last month, ADS also announced new funding for congregate meals, with awards to 13 community meal providers (follow the links for community meal information):

Funds were also awarded to Tilth Alliance for Registered Dietitian Services that support the community meal sites.

I am impressed by the wealth of opportunity for camaraderie and education that accompanies the healthy meals provided at each community meal site. Each site is unique—look for one near you and/or sites that pique your interest.

A Hunger Action Month tip: I know with certainty that each of the organizations above makes good use of volunteers. Whether you work in food service, or as a greeter or a lunchtime companion, the help you can provide is invaluable.

Culturally nourishing foods for older adults

Finally, last month ADS announced brand new (first ever) funding for culturally nourishing foods for older adults, made possible in large part by the Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax. The City of Seattle began collecting this tax in 2018 to reduce consumption of unhealthy sugar-laden drinks; however, the tax has also allowed for increased access to healthy food and investments in communities most impacted by health inequities, including communities of color, immigrant communities, and among people with low incomes.

Each of the award recipients proposed promising strategies to better meet the needs of the community served. There are links above for nutrition programs at Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Eritrean Association in Greater Seattle, Filipino Community of Seattle, and Sound Generations. In addition, funding was awarded to:

I am impressed by the creativity these organizations have shown in increasing access to healthy groceries and prepared meals, and also connections that have built social support.

A Hunger Action Month tip: Okay, more of the same advice—connect with organizations you see that do work you admire. Lend a hand, whether once for an hour or an hour each month or week. Short on time, longer on money? These community-based organizations are nonprofits that will invest your donation—large or small—wisely.

Food security

Over the years, Aging and Disability Services has been involved in the growing farm to table movement. Every year, the agency administers the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides farmers market benefits cards to thousands of low-income older people every summer. ADS encourages participation in Fresh Bucks, another Sweetened Beverage Tax-funded program, and Basic Food (also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, this program helps people with low incomes make ends meet by providing monthly benefits to buy food).

Despite the investments outlined above and other local, state, and federal programs, I am sure there are older people throughout King County who do not have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. In some cases, this is due to lack of knowledge; in others, a reluctance to ask for assistance.

I hope this article leaves you with the desired impression—there are lots of options to meet the nutritional needs of older people in King County that simultaneously create opportunities to build community. Please share this information with anyone you know who might benefit from easier access to adequate food and other community resources.

Of course, you or they can contact any of the organizations listed above. But you can also make one call—to Community Living Connections at (toll-free) 844-348-5464—to ask for local food resource referrals. Aging and Disability Services wants to help. Calls are welcomed, and consultations are professional and free of charge.

Joe HaileyContributor Joe Hailey chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. He welcomes input from readers via e-mail (

This article appeared in the September 2023 issue of AgeWise King County.