- Author: Wendy Powers
I feel like I'm not quite to the halfway point of a 20-day week. I'm attending a conference today and tomorrow. This morning's session focused on hunger as a health issue. That's not new information to me. My mother was a dietician and I remember reading her monthly subscription to the American Dietetic Association publication. I was pleased to learn that AARP has partnered with Feeding America and Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) to address food insecurity among older adults (over 50 years of age). This isn't an area that our nutrition programs address but I wonder if, assuming capacity were available and given the changing age demographics of the U.S., it wouldn't be a high priority for UC ANR efforts. The speakers talked about efforts to work with the medical community to equip medical professionals with information about health consequences, screening tools to identify at risk individuals and intervention options in addition to training for the health care professionals how to talk to their patients and overcome barriers such as embarrassment and guilt about taking advantage of nutrition assistance.
We discussed that living alone often reduces one's desire to prepare healthy food. I'm very guilty of that! What we didn't talk about but that I believe is as much a ‘risk' to the elderly is food safety. As the sense of smell weakens with age, the ability to distinguish fresh from rotten food is diminished thereby raising potential food safety concerns. The senses of taste and smell are tightly connected. Thus, the sense of taste dulls as people age, too. As a result, it can be difficult to get sufficient nutrient intake in some older adults. Nutrient dense supplements and food flavor enhancements are two strategies used to improve food consumption. Food intake, food access and food safety are all topics that are relevant to an aging population. There's no shortage of topics.
Similarly, there's no shortage of needs in any of the program areas. So it's key to focus on those areas where the greatest impact can be had that move us towards our 2025 Strategic Vision. At present, the survey is open to capture how the work of UC ANR academics align with the identified condition changes. The survey closes in about a week so be sure to search through your email and find one that was sent out last week requesting your assistance to complete the survey.
The 2018 position call process is open; there's no shortage of position needs but, of course, there is finite capacity to increase the footprint. Last week the REC and County Directors met to talk about their first draft of priority positions. At the end of this week, they will share their conversations with Program Team Leaders and Statewide Program and Institute Directors and talk through the process, to date, in addition to seek feedback from these other leaders within the division. Last week the REC directors met all day to continue efforts to identify how to balance available funds with supporting researchers and investing to keep facilities functional and attract more research and extension projects and programs. Again, no shortage of needs. And, no shortage of great ideas about what's possible.
Later this week I am headed to the south end of the state. It should be a great chance to connect with a number of staff and academics as well as, hopefully, partners and clientele. No shortage of exciting things going on across the state!