October 24, 2003

Locals, Grad Student Honored for Foodnet Work

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Three Foodnet volunteers will be honored tomorrow for distinguished service. Allison Parker grad will receive the Eleanor L. Mitchell Memorial Scholarship, and local residents Eleanor Carey and Susan Merrill will be recognized at the opening session of the 86th Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. The ceremony will take place in San Antonio, Texas.

Foodnet, a local meal service program, provides nutritional services, including meals, to the elderly and others in need. Tompkins County’s Meals on Wheels program was incorporated into the organization in December 2000.

Parker is a graduate dietetic intern at Cornell and works at Foodnet in order to complete the community nutrition portion of her internship.

Both Carey and Merrill are receiving this distinction for their 50 years of continuous membership in the American Dietetic Association and their contribution to the profession of dietetics.

“Fifty years ago, I joined the ADA, and although I never worked directly for them,” she is now being honored by them, Merrill said.

Ever since then, Merrill has had a number of varying jobs, including working as Foodnet’s registered dietitian for 10 years from 1988 to 1998. As their dietitian, she was responsible, among other duties, for screening potential people before they entered the program as well as visiting them in their home settings and providing nutritional education. She also offered direct nutritional counseling and was in charge of menu approval.

Carey served on Foodnet’s board for a number of years. A registered dietitian who has previously worked for the state health department in Albany, she is the current proprietor of the Blue Willow Bed & Breakfast in Trumansburg. At Foodnet, she was responsible for aiding in nutritional education, personnel, policy and planning.

The goal of Foodnet, which was founded in 1987, is to provide meals delivered directly to people’s homes so that those who otherwise would not be able to live on their own are capable of doing so. Stephen Griffin, executive director of Foodnet, explained that although the majority of participants are elderly, the organization also assists the disabled or chronically ill and to a limited extent, those who need short-term assistance.

The philosophy of Foodnet is that good nutrition is a cornerstone for healthy aging. It therefore attempts to provide nutritional care to aging adults in Tompkins County.

According to the Foodnet website, “almost 90 percent of older adults have a nutrition-related chronic disease or condition such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or osteoporosis. About 40 percent of community-dwelling older adults have inadequate food and nutrient intake, which affects their health and ability to function independently.”

Aside from providing meals in both communal areas and to individual homes, Foodnet provides additional nutritional assistance. Griffin maintains that not only does Foodnet “have an impact on seniors and on their caregivers and family members, providing them with an added sense of security, but the community as a whole also benefits. People who maintain better health status are less likely to require higher levels of care.”

Merrill recognizes the importance of Foodnet as well, saying that “not only does Foodnet have a stable impact particularly for people on the home delivery end, who can get up to two meals a day now and can continue to stay in their own homes while experiencing better nutrition,” but the program also helps those who participate in the communal meals, “because it allows them a place to do some socializing.”

Merrill will not be attending the ceremonies in Texas this year.

“I don’t enjoy great big meetings,” she said.

Instead, she and Carey “got together and celebrated.”

Archived article by Yonit Caplow