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Senior Meals celebrates OAANP's 40th anniversary

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HANCOCK – It was this day in 1972 that the Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs passed, paving the way for senior meal programs all over the United States, including here in the Copper Country.

Portage Health Senior MealsPortage Health Senior Meals is one of those programs, delivering more than 85,000 meals a year to residents of Houghton and Keweenaw Counties.

“These meals are a Godsend,” said Mary Harju, an 82-year-old Houghton resident who receives the meals seven days a week. “I threw all my pots and pans away. I’m 82-years-old, I can’t cook, and I don’t need to.”

She isn’t alone. Hundreds of residents in the area take advantage of the program, which was started in the late 1970s and taken over by Portage Health in the early 1990s.

“People that can’t cook or shop should still have access to a good, hot meal,” said Jennifer Szubielak, director of Portage Health Senior Meals. “All of our food is cooked from scratch, and delivered right to the customer’s door.”

The meal delivery drivers enjoy the experience because they get to visit and chat with people from all over the community.

“It’s nice to have a friendly voice come in and visit me everyday,” said Jim Troy, a nearly 90-year-old Hancock man. “You can’t understand how much I appreciate this. It makes it possible for me to still live at home.”

The Copper Country service was the first in the Upper Peninsula, and Szubielak notes that all the meals meet at least 1/3 of a person’s daily nutritional requirements.

“We get help from local and state dietitians to make sure we’re not only providing food, but healthy food,” she said. “We can also provide diet-specific meals if someone’s health conditions deem that necessary.”

On a national level, more than eight billion meals have been served since the act passed, keeping millions of older Americans living independently.

Meals are also sent to seven congregate sites across the Keweenaw for people who are able to drive and want to socialize, a full list can be found on our website.

To find out more information, including learning how you can start getting home-delivered meals, call 483-1155 or visit

Get your Plate in Shape during Nutrition Month

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It’s time to get your Plate in Shape!

That’s the message from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is celebrating National Nutrition Month this March.

Here are six simple tips that everyone could learn from:
1) Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
Eat a variety of vegetables, especially those that are dark-green, red, and orange, plus beans and peas. Choose fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables. For canned vegetables, look for those without added salt. For canned fruits, look for those in water or 100% juice.

2) Make at least half of your grains, whole grains
Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.

3) Opt for fat-free or low-fat milk
Fat-free and low-fat milk have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but less fat and calories.

4) Vary your protein choices
Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs. Twice per week, make seafood the protein on your plate.

5) Cut back on sodium and empty calories
Watch for salt (sodium) in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Select fruit for dessert. Eat sugary desserts less often.
Make major sources of saturated fats, such as desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages and hot dogs occasional choices, not everyday foods. Select lean cuts of meat and fat-free or low-fat dairy. Switch from solid fats to oils when preparing food.

6) Enjoy your food, but eat less
Avoid oversized portions. Use a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food. When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options and opt for dishes that include vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

For more information on healthy eating visit, or


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