SBL Peace Meal has made recent additions to its services that allow the staff to better meet the nutritional needs of its clients.
Peace Meal received additional funds through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which have created many opportunities to make impactful changes.
From updating the atmosphere of its congregate meal settings to updating the meals themselves, Barbra Wylie, Peace Meal director, and her team have made important changes to ensure clients’ nutritional needs are being met.
The funds from ARPA were a real game-changer for Peace Meal, Wylie said. “These grant dollars are allowing us to do enhancements to our services that we are not able to do with our regular funding,” she explained.
One recent change implemented, through the ARPA funds, was making serving materials, such as plates and glasses, more appealing. Wylie said the visual aspect of eating is very important, and in some cases, clients may not be interested in a meal if the food and drinks are served in dull-colored plates and cups. To combat this, Peace Meal purchased plates whose colors make the food stand out, and nice glasses for drinks, rather than serving milk in cartons, for example.
It may seem like a small change, but Wylie said it improves how people view their meal and are more satisfied with eating it. “It really matters, and we see that these things are making a difference,” Wylie said.
Along with the improvements made to the dining experience, the Peace Meal Team now serves targeted second meals to some home delivered meal clients who were found to be most at-risk through the Nutritional Risk Assessment. The assessment is used to evaluate all Peace Meal clients, but those who are most at risk of facing nutritional challenges that could negatively impact their health receive these second meals to combat those challenges.
In addition, clients in some communities are receiving fresh produce bags. Wylie said for seniors who can’t get to the store very often, getting fresh produce is challenging. With these produce bags, Peace Meal can make sure clients receive a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as education on the importance of those items.
While targeted second meals and produce bags are not currently available in all communities, Peace Meal hopes to expand those services over time.
Peace Meal receives funding through various channels for its regular expenses, but the recent ARPA funds gave the team a boost to offer even more to people who need nutrition services.
SBL Peace Meal serves seven counties (Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Moultrie and Shelby), through three central kitchens in Mattoon, Toledo and Oakland, as well as local vendors in Bethany, Herrick and Paris. In total, the program provides approximately 800 meals each day.