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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources

Learn how a AAA transformed its nutrition program by adding fresh, local foods prepared in an on-site kitchen to create nutritious, cost-effective and delicious meals for older adults in its community.

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 Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources' Creating a Sustainable Partnership program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Achievement Award winner in the Nutrition category.
 
A partnership between the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources and Sustainable Kitchens, a Wisconsin food service consulting firm, transformed one county's catered nutrition program by adding fresh, local foods prepared in an on-site kitchen for both congregate and home-delivered meals. The project uses the Sustainable Kitchens' motto “Back. To. Scratch.” to provide simple and fresh foods that can be used to create meals that are nutritious, cost-effective and delicious. As part of the program, Sustainable Kitchens helped develop menus using local foods, offered culinary training for staff and provided input on creating a cooking kitchen.
 
The program has had a huge impact on the community. Cooking from scratch and buying local foods from local vendors fosters a sustainable and vibrant community—and keeps dollars in the community. This project has also brought awareness to the nutrition program and created new jobs. One of the local food providers involved as a partner in the program, Central Rivers Farmshed, shared, “Your transition from a catered meal program to a sustainable kitchen is inspiring. We know the difference it makes in the lives of the people you serve, and we are proud to be your partner.”
 
Program participants look forward to the variety and the local foods used in the meals. They are able to see the vegetables grow on site and then enjoy them as part of a nutritious meal. One participant shared, “I really appreciate the change to more whole, healthy foods. Prior to that, I would not come even if I was lonely.”  A key ingredient to the program's success is the fact that Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources involved the participants from the beginning—by surveying them about the meals and using those responses to create a menu—so participants felt that they were part of the process.
 
For other AAAs considering transforming their nutrition programs, Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources shares that AAAs must first identify a partner in the food industry who can assist with improving food quality and implementing change. Securing board and staff support is also a must. Creating a steering committee and inviting all players—including AAA staff, the state unit on aging and the partner—to the table to discuss the project from the beginning to the end is essential.
 
To learn more about the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources' Creating a Sustainable Partnership program, contact Robert Kellerman, Executive Director, at Bob.Kellerman@gwaar.org.
 
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! You can also listen to our four-part webinar series, n4a Lunchtime Innovations, to hear your peers' secrets to success for these award-winning programs. Also keep your eye out for our February opening of the submissions process for the 2020 AIA Awards.

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