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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

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