Did you know that up to 17% of adults aged 50 and over are socially isolated? Social isolation among older adults can lead to a number of ongoing challenges including food insecurity, loneliness, and a poor health status leading to an increased risk of premature institutionalization or early death. Social isolation leads to nutritional risks due to limited access to healthy food and the absence of a social relationship during mealtimes. Research links older adult’s social behaviors with eating behaviors and shows that, in general, people tend to eat more in the presence of others.
What is the Lunch Buddy Program?
The Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA), in partnership with the Campus Kitchen at UGA, has developed the Lunch Buddy Program to combat social isolation and risk of poor nutritional status in homebound older adults. The Lunch Buddy Program pairs a homebound older adult, or “Buddy”, with a Campus Kitchen student, Senior Service Corp. RSVP or community volunteer to share a weekly lunch-time meal together.
What do Lunch Buddy Volunteers do?
Pairing an older adult with a volunteer provides an opportunity for social interaction and will be the link the older adult needs to connect to their community, as well as area resources. Having a “buddy” at lunch time will increase the amount of food consumed by the older adult, which will improve overall nutrition.
What will Lunch Buddy volunteers gain from their work?
Volunteers will gain exposure to older adults and awareness of challenges faced by the population, including, but not limited to food insecurity and social isolation. The Lunch Buddy will gain a new friend and meaningful relationship. In addition, they will feel that they have made a difference in the life of the older adult.
If you are interested in becoming a Lunch Buddy volunteer, contact Christy Tweedy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Help us make the lives of our local elders better! If you would like to donate to this program, please CLICK HERE.