Continued Participation in Congregate Meal Programs: The Role of Geographic Access to Food
The Nutrition Services Program is the largest program that provides prepared meals to older adults in need. However, little is known about the factors associated with participants’ continued receipt of meals. This study uses longitudinal nationally representative survey data and residential location information to examine the factors associated with continuing to receive congregate meals (N = 383). 71.6% of participants in a given month continued to receive program meals in all of the next 12 months. Participants with geographic access to food proximate to their home were significantly more likely to stop receiving meals than those with more limited access (OR = 0.37, CI 0.16, 0.85); this was true among participants who lived alone, were older, had lower income, or lived in an urban area. Understanding the factors associated with continuing to receive congregate meals will ensure that older adults can meet their food needs and have a primary access point for community services.