Social isolation, a state of complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society, is an all-too-common issue for senior adults. Nationally, 17% of adults age 65 and older are isolated and social isolation causes Medicare an additional $6.7 billion per year in health costs. Many of the homebound seniors served by ACCA’s Meals on Wheels program are easily impacted by social isolation. Meal delivery volunteers provide a brief daily visit to clients, but certain Meals on Wheels participants identified that they would benefit from and enjoy increased socialization.
Athens Community Council on Aging and Campus Kitchen at UGA have partnered to tackle the issue of social isolation with the Lunch Buddy program. This program aims to decrease social isolation, to increase food security and intake of healthy foods in senior adults, and to expose student and community volunteers to challenges faced by the older adult population.
Lunch Buddy matches a community volunteer to an older adult, or “Buddy”, that has been identified as food insecure and socially isolated. The volunteer and Buddy share a weekly meal in the Buddy’s home, and are able to form bonds over common interests. After participation in the Lunch Buddy program, 88% of “buddies” reported they felt less lonely, 81% said they felt more connected to their community and 100% said they would recommend the program to a friend.
For more information on Lunch Buddy, please contact the Senior Hunger AmeriCorps VISTA at SHVista@accaging.org or at 706-549-4850.