The cultural and ethnic composition of the older adult population is also changing. Increasing racial and ethnic diversity requires more flexible, culturally appropriate services. Therefore, SUAs, AAAs and OANPs must embrace their participants' racial and ethnic diversity and heritage. They should examine current services to assure cultural competence and customization to best meet the nutrition, social, and health needs of their diverse communities.
The OANP is grappling with decreasing federal resources, diminishing numbers of volunteers, and increasing and shifting demands for services from congregate meal sites to homes (1). There is evidence that a strong food and nutrition infrastructure is needed among nutrition service providers. The Nutrition 2030 Grassroots Survey (2) revealed that local OANPs want to provide the best services but need considerable direction to do so. The National Policy and Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging (Center) at Florida International University has been providing support to the AoA and Aging Network through training, technical assistance, information dissemination, knowledge building, policy analysis, outcomes measurement and partnership building. The Older Americans Nutrition Program Toolkit was developed by the Center to help OANPs and the Aging Network improve food and nutrition services for older adults nationwide.
The goal of the Toolkit is to assist SUAs in revising and updating their nutrition-related regulations, policies, procedures, and guidelines. The objectives of the Toolkit include:
C. 1998 COLLECTION AND USE OF SUA DOCUMENTS
To begin developing the Toolkit, the AoA regional offices requested all U.S. states and territories to send copies of all current documents pertaining to state policies, procedures, rules, regulations, operational manuals, guidelines and standards for administering OANPs to the Center. A list of 19 topics, along with 103 subtopics (Appendix), was provided to suggest content areas of documents submitted. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico responded, submitting files of existing documents ranging from 50 to about 800 pages, each. The Center maintains the SUA Policies and Procedures: 1998 Collection of Information and requests that new documents be sent as they are revised or developed.
A manual (page by page) content analysis of each states' documents was conducted to code each portion of each SUA document into categories represented by the topic and subtopic list. Descriptive statistics, such as frequencies and percentages, were used to summarize the topics and subtopics.
Limitations in the method of collecting and analyzing State documents for this Toolkit were that some topics or subtopics may not have been identified and counted in the survey or SUAs may not have submitted all pertinent documents. Given these limitations, the SUA Policies and Procedures: 1998 Collection of Information represents a more general, broad-based summary of current Nutrition Program practices. While this Toolkit contains sample SUA policies and procedures, there is the possibility of error or omission of other best practices.
ORGANIZATION OF THE TOOLKIT
The Toolkit is organized into the following chapters:
Chapter I: Provides a brief history and explains current issues of the Older Americans Nutrition Program; Describes the purpose of the Toolkit and a summary about the 1998 Collection of SUA Policies and Procedures.
Chapter II: Contains definitions of terms commonly used throughout SUA documents. Many are provided verbatim from Title I of the OAA to provide a framework for using and understanding OANP terminology.
III-XII: Each chapter is divided into sections that address the main components
of the OANP. The following is included in each section:
Older Americans Act Aging Services Network Resources are available at:
PowerPoint Presentations from the AoA Nutritionists / Administrators Conference (June 2-4, 2002):
(1) Wellman NS, Rosenzweig LY, Lloyd JL. Thirty years of the Older Americans Nutrition Program. J Am Diet Assoc. 2002;102:348-350.