Rural Resources Diner's Choice Program
- Need: Many older adults are lacking proper nutrition, due to an inability to prepare food, lack of financial resources, depression due to social isolation, or general frailty associated with aging.
- Intervention: The Diner's Choice meal program provides 12 coupons each month to older adults for local restaurants in two rural counties in Washington.
- Results: Older adults in Pend Oreille and Stevens counties receive much-needed nutrition and social interaction, leading to healthier lives.
In order to meet nutrition and social interaction needs of older adults in rural Pend Oreille and Stevens counties in Washington, the Tri-County Senior Nutrition Program implemented the Diner's Choice program for people 60 or older. (Diner's Choice is not offered in Ferry County, since people 60 or older can receive a free lunch at the Ferry County Memorial Hospital three days a week.)
This program provides up to 12 Diner's Choice coupons per month, and each is worth one meal at a participating restaurant. Because the meals are provided on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis, no older adult goes hungry due to inability to pay.
In 2017, there were 12 participating restaurants in the two counties. These restaurants have multiple menu options available for older adults, with each meal meeting at least one-third of the recommended daily nutritional needs. Older adults can meet up with family or friends and enjoy a meal at one of these restaurants any time the restaurant is open.
Funding for the Diner's Choice program comes from federal funds, participant contributions, grants, and fundraising.
- Coupons that allow people 60 or older to eat at participating restaurants in the tri-county area
- Much-needed socialization when people leave their homes and interact with others during their mealtime at the restaurants
- Access to other meal program options, including frozen meals
In 2018, 14,685 meals were provided through the Diner's Choice program to approximately 640 older adults. In addition, 18,060 frozen meals supplemented the Diner's Choice program for those seniors needing additional meal support.
Barriers for implementing a program like Diner's Choice are gaining participation from area restaurants and securing enough funding to provide meals to all older adults who would benefit from them.
While there are currently no manuals or toolkits available, Program Manager Anita Sailor welcomes any calls from organizations looking to implement a similar program.
Aging and aging-related services
Food security and nutrition
June 26, 2007
Date updated or reviewed
September 30, 2019
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.