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October 22, 1997

Federal Program Nourishes Poor Elderly

JAMA. 1997;278(16):1301. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550160021009

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A QUARTER CENTURY after it was established, the federal Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP) is helping millions of older Americans to meet or exceed recommendations for a healthy diet.

The program also provides another kind of sustenance, helping the elderly live potentially longer, healthier lives by increasing their contact with other people. The ENP "is a wonderful model for community-based long-term care," said Barbara Millen, DrPH, associate dean for research at Boston University's School of Public Health.

Millen, along with James Ohls, PhD, and Michael Ponza, PhD, investigators at Mathematica Policy Research Inc in Princeton, NJ, evaluated several aspects of the program by interviewing 1040 people who visited ENP sites for meals and 818 who received meals at home. They also surveyed 841 matched controls. The study was part of a congressionally mandated ENP evaluation.

"On every research question that Congress raised, the program demonstrated that it's not only effective, but