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Health

UNE pilots program to help older adults eat healthy meals, socialize and be physically active

The University of New England is launching a pilot program to improve health and nutrition for older adults, thanks to a three-year, $900,000 federal grant.

Public health professor Dr. Michele Polacsek says the program builds off UNE's efforts to connect with older adults during the pandemic.

"Many of them had no one to eat a meal with for up to nine months and it was devastating for them and we heard lots of stories about this," she says. "And they were so grateful to receive even virtual educational programming."

With help from the Westbrook Housing Authority and the Southern Maine Agency on Aging, Polacsek says the program will create small groups for adults to eat together and learn about nutrition. Health students from UNE will also help participants with meal prep and online grocery shopping.

"We can create a model, doing this here in Maine, it's never been tried before, that we can then replicate all over the country," says Polacsek.

UNE plans to enroll about 200 adults in the pilot.