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Nutrition: Home-delivered and Congregate Meal Services for Older Adults

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This is a brief summary of the CPSTF finding and systematic review evidence for Nutrition: Home-delivered and Congregate Meal Services for Older Adults. Read a complete summary of the systematic review and CPSTF finding.

This information is also availble in a PDF version pdf icon [PDF - 291 KB].

Summary of Community Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation

The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) recommends home-delivered and congregate meal services to reduce malnutrition among older adults living independently (i.e., not residents of senior living or retirement community centers).

Major Findings

The CPSTF recommendation is based on evidence from 20 studies identified from a published systematic review1 and an updated search (search period through May 21, 2021).

  • Home-delivered meal services increased the percent of older adults who met their Recommended Daily Allowances for energy by 7.1 percentage points and for protein by 5.9 percentage points (6 studies). Malnutrition among participants decreased by 15.5 percentage points (9 studies).
  • Congregate meal services decreased malnutrition among participants by 9 percentage points (2 studies).

What are Home-delivered and Congregate Meal Services?

Meal services provide nutritious meals to adults 60 years and older who are living independently (i.e., not residents of senior living centers). Interventions prioritize those with greater social and economic needs and are delivered as one of the following:

  • Home-delivered meal services, or
  • Congregate meal services provided in group settings, such as senior centers, that give older adults an opportunity to socialize.

Meals typically follow nutritional guidelines, are usually provided five days per week, and may follow cultural- or health-related needs, such as diabetic requirements.

Why is This Important?

  • Older adults are at greater risk of malnutrition2 and may experience less social connectedness.3
  • Older adults living on fixed incomes are at greater risk for food insecurity.4,5
  • The Older Americans Act Nutrition Program provides home-delivered meal and congregate meal services to reduce hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; enhance socialization; and promote health and well-being among older Americans.6

Learn More

CDC Nutrition External Web Site Icon

Administration for Community Living, Nutrition and Aging Resource Center External Web Site Icon

References

1 Walton K, et al. The impact of home-delivered meal services on the nutritional intake of community living older adults: a systematic literature review. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 2020;33;38-47.

2 Norman K, et al. Malnutrition in older adults—recent advances and remaining challenges. Nutrients 2021;13:2764.

3 Krondl M, et al. Helping older adults meet nutritional challenges. Journal of Nutrition for the Elderly 2008; 27(3/4), 205-20.

4 Mabli J, et al. Hunger in America 2010: National report prepared for Feeding America: final report. Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.: 2010. Report number: 06251-600.

5 Goldberg SL, et al. Predictors of food insecurity among older adults in the United States. Public Health Nursing 2014; doi: 10.1111/phn.12173.

6 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living. Nutrition Services. November 2021. Date Accessed: 11/29/2021. Available at: https://acl.gov/programs/health-wellness/nutrition-services.


Established in 1996 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) is an independent, nonfederal panel of public health and prevention experts whose members are appointed by the director of CDC. CPSTF provides information for a wide range of decision makers on programs, services, and other interventions aimed at improving population health. Although CDC provides administrative, scientific, and technical support for CPSTF, the recommendations developed are those of CPSTF and do not undergo review or approval by CDC. Find more information at www.thecommunityguide.org.