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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Mid-America Regional Council

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 Mid-America Regional Council's Connecting Home-Delivered Meals Clients to Food Pantry Resources Using Smart Speaker Technology program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Innovations Award winner in the Nutrition category.

When faced with the challenge of providing healthy food to homebound older adults, Mid-America Regional Council went above and beyond the typical constraints of a home-delivered meal program. The Kansas City AAA piloted a project that utilized smart speaker technology to allow older adults to order healthy food using just their voice. The program provided 60 Amazon Alexa's Echo Show smart speakers to 60 homebound older adults. The participants received training on how to use the smart speaker for their everyday lives and specifically how to use the Show Me KC Pantry app to order pantry items. Once a participant places an order, the partner food pantry packages the food into a box that is given to volunteer home-delivered meals drivers.
 
Participants of the program reported decreased depression scores and improved overall health after they started using the smart speaker program. They not only benefited from the food delivery part of the program, but also the social aspect of the program. The older adults in the program loved having a visit from the delivery drivers and even used the smart speakers as a conversation starter with other visitors to their home.
 
The project enabled older adults to connect to the outside world in a way they hadn't before. After some intimal hesitation about using the smart speakers, participants described the speakers as a “cool” and “awesome” device that they were excited to continue using.
 
The Mid-America Regional Council AAA team encourages other AAAs who are interested in starting a similar program to invest adequate time and effort into the program at the start and to build relationships with other agencies, support teams and technology firms. They believe that when older adults are at risk for food insecurity, malnutrition and social isolation, pushing the envelope with technology is worth exploring.
 
To learn more about Mid-America Regional Council's Connecting Home-Delivered Meals Clients to Food Pantry Resources Using Smart Speaker Technology program, contact James D. Stowe, Director, Aging & Adult Services at jstowe@marc.org.

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!
 

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