Senior Independence Awareness Month: Part I


Part I: Access to Nutritious Meals to Maintain independence


Maxine was watering her plants in her backyard on a hot day, and spent too much time in the sun and became fatigued. Meals on Wheels volunteer Patti was just arriving to deliver her daily meal, and couldn’t find Maxine. She called around the house for her, and soon heard a faint cry from Maxine. She helped bring her into the house to cool down. 


“We’ve been good friends ever since...she just saved the day for me that day”, said Maxine, smiling cheek to cheek. 


It’s more than just the delivery of a hot nutritious meal, it’s a daily connection to check on clients, especially those experiencing isolation or homebound. 


Services like Meals on Wheels and Spearfish Nutrition Site are valuable resources for our senior community because in many cases, the volunteer may be their single point of contact throughout the day and may help connect them to other community resources as needed. In the case of Maxine, her volunteer saved her life.


Nutrition is important for any age group, but nutrition for senior citizens is even more important to get the right type and amount of nutrients to prevent some diseases, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers that become more prevalent when aging. (


According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), “as you grow older, your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories than before. Your body also needs more of certain nutrients. That means it’s more important than ever to choose foods that give you the best nutritional value.”


Meals on Wheels provides one-third of the recommended daily allowance, which is one serving of protein, three servings of vegetables or fruit, one serving of bread, milk and a dessert. 


Adequate nutrition is an essential component of overall health. When one is adequately nourished, he/she is able to perform tasks like regular exercise, learning new skills, participating in new activities, and so much more. This is no exception for our senior communities. 


There are a few (of many) community benefits of investing in these resources like Meals on Wheels and the Spearfish Nutrition Site


  1. Well-nourished seniors generally have shorter hospital stays, lower health care costs, faster healing, fewer health complications and lower mortality rates.
  2. Well-nourished seniors generally are able to perform productive activities, like volunteering or staying active in their community.
  3. Well-nourished seniors generally are able to continue to stay independent and in their homes that they may have already paid off, allowing them to save them more money to cover other living expenses.


How is your donation to UWBH helping these senior nutrition programs?


In 2020, we funded senior nutrition programs such as Meals on Wheels of Western South Dakota and the Spearfish Nutrition Site. We were able to cover the cost of daily meals for 6,163 clients in these programs throughout the Black Hills region!


In addition, both organizations received a $10,000 UNITED We Stand COVID-19 grant that was also matched by the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to adapt and expand their services to reach new and existing clients.


Through the COVID-19 funding, Meals on Wheels of Western South Dakota was able to purchase and prepare 20,000 meals and order more storage equipment. Spearfish Nutrition Site had to adjust their congregate dining space and purchase extensive sanitizing equipment, replacing all their dining ware with disposable alternatives. 


“Nutrition is the front runner in health and wellbeing....we continue to provide meals to those who are homebound, which has increased due to COVID-19. We have had several recipients who have had COVID-19 and strongly believe that nutrition has played a role in their recovery,” says Gayle Bercier, Spearfish Nutrition Site Manager.


What’s next?


According to our 2019 Community Needs Assessment, Access to Affordable, Healthy Food was identified as a top #7 priority need throughout the Black Hills. We look forward to collaborating with organizations that serve these communities and identify other potential gaps or how these populations can have an optimal experience with the goal of promoting independence in the senior community.


Learn more


Could you or someone you know benefit from one of these services? Please click on the links of our funded partners below to learn more about program requirements and how to enroll.







About this series


This story is part one of a three part series on: Sharing the community benefit of senior independence as February is Senior Independence Awareness Month In this three part series, we will be sharing all the ways we support senior independence from: access to nutritious meals, mental health services, social activities, transportation assistance and advocacy programs.