Rep. Cook Hails House Passage of Legislation to Help Prevent Malnutrition Among Seniors

April 14, 2022

State Representative Michelle L. Cook (D – Torrington) applauds the Connecticut House of Representatives' passage of legislation on Wednesday to address and prevent malnutrition among seniors.

House Bill 5231, which passed unanimously, would require Connecticut's five area agencies on aging (AAAs) to collect nutritional risk assessment data among seniors and report that data to the state Department of Aging and Disability Services. ADS would use this data to determine the allocation of state funding to these agencies for elderly nutrition programs, like Meals on Wheels.

“Malnutrition among older adults is a serious health crisis, and nearly 50 percent of seniors are vulnerable to becoming malnourished or are malnourished, leading to health complications,” said Rep. Cook, who introduced the bill and led the House debate. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw even more seniors struggling to access nutrient-rich food as they sheltered in place, isolated from their loved ones who often ensure they're able to eat every day. This bill will help ensure our local senior meal programs can adequately meet this population's food needs. Thank you to Joel Sekorski, Director of the Torrington Senior Center, for bringing this to our attention.”

Prior to the pandemic, seniors could access meals through home delivery programs and congregate meal sites like senior centers and churches. As a result of COVID-19, congregate meal sites shut down and many AAAs transitioned to all home-delivered meal services.

The AARP Foundation reported that about 9.8 million adults over 50 experienced food insecurity. In March 2021, nearly 1 in 7 older adults reported experiencing food insecurity. Food insecurity can increase the risk of malnourishment, leading to health complications such as depression, weakened immune system, poor wound healing, decreased bone density and muscle weakness, and higher incidence of cardiovascular disease.

The Senate must pass the bill before it goes to the governor for consideration.