Maine SNAP-Ed Program Manager Testifies in Front of United States Senate Special Committee on Aging Regarding Nutrition for Older Adults

Elizabeth Pratt, MPH, Maine SNAP-Ed program manager meets spoke to the Senate Special Committee on Aging in Washington D.C on July 12, 2017

Elizabeth Pratt, MPH, Maine SNAP-Ed Program Manager spoke to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging in Washington D.C. and poses afterwards for a photo with Senator Susan Collins

On Wednesday, July 12th, Maine SNAP-Ed, a program of UNE’s Center for Excellence in Health Innovation, testified in front of the Senate Special Committee on Aging in Washington D.C regarding nutrition for seniors. Maine SNAP-Ed’s Program Manager, Elizabeth Pratt, MPH, was joined by other experts in the field, including Dr. Connie Bales, Duke University School of Medicine and Durham VA Medical Center; Dr. Seth Berkowitz, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital; and Pat Taylor, Retiree from Penn Hills, Pennsylvania. The theme of the hearing was “Nourishing our Golden Years: How Proper and Adequate Nutrition Promotes Healthy Aging and Positive Outcomes.”

SNAP-Ed is the USDA’s nutrition education arm of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. It offers education, social marketing campaigns, and environmental support in all 50 states. SNAP-Ed uses evidence-based, comprehensive public health approaches to improve the likelihood that low-income families will make healthier food and physical activity choices, consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The purpose of the Maine SNAP-Ed program is to provide low-income Mainers with easy ways to shop, cook, and eat healthy on a limited budget – stretching their limited food dollars.

In Maine, there are 44 highly qualified Nutrition Educators who provide series-based nutrition education and implement policy, systems, and environmental change strategies. They work in every Maine District and are based in local community coalitions and hospitals. They work in eligible community settings and with multiple organizations to reach children in schools, veterans, adults with disabilities, working adults, and seniors.

In her testimony, Ms. Pratt noted that Maine is the “oldest state in the country” with the highest percentage of older adults, and many of them are low-income. She discussed the prevalence of food insecurity, noting that “roughly 203,000 Mainers face hunger every day.” Four out of 10 SNAP participants in Maine (43%) are in families with members who are elderly or have disabilities. Many Maine seniors have to make hard decisions related to their food choices, having to “choose between their prescriptions, feeding the children who live in their households, fuel for heating in the winter, and their own nutrition needs.” Ms. Pratt provided examples from the field, noting the efforts of two Nutrition Educators – one from Downeast and one from Houlton. These stories of success illustrated how seniors benefit from improved nutrition, while highlighting how SNAP-Ed helps address the social isolation of rural seniors by creating social and environmental supports for healthier living.

image004

After the witnesses presented their testimonies, Senator Collins held up the Maine SNAP-Ed annual report to the page that includes a map with the settings where Nutrition Educators provide education. She praised the program model and said the following:

“I was impressed with your chart on SNAP-Ed in my state of Maine and you show where the Nutrition Educators are located. And in which District or county. But to me what is more significant is how integrated they are into places where people shop, learn, work, play and go to church. That’s what really impressed me. It seems like you’re everywhere…and I congratulate you for that.”

 

For more information about the Maine SNAP-Ed program, visit mainesnap-ed.org or contact mainesnap-ed@une.edu.

To watch the recorded testimony or read the written testimony, visit:

Nourishing our Golden Years: How Proper and Adequate Nutrition Promotes Healthy Aging and Positive Outcomes

Review the Maine SNAP-Ed’s 2016 Annual Report.

Leave a Reply