2001 Award for Excellence in Program Innovation

Posted June 5, 2001 | Archived News | 1999-2004

The Archstone Foundation Award for Excellence in Program Innovation was created in conjunction with the Gerontological Health Section of the American Public Health Association, and was established to recognize the best practice models in Gerontology and Geriatrics. Emphasis is given to those innovative programs that have effectively linked academic theory with applied practice in the field of public health and aging. 

This year we are pleased to announce the winner of the Archstone Foundation Award for Excellence in Program Innovation as follows: 

Winner of the top honor

Groceries to Go, Elder Services Network, Mt. Iron, Minnesota

The Groceries to Go Program is a reliable grocery service for seniors who cannot accomplish this task for themselves. The program provides a weekly shopping and delivery service for persons who are over 60 years of age. Special efforts are made to reach individuals with the greatest need, minorities, frail, disabled, functionally impaired, limited hearing, visually impaired, rural and or isolated persons. The program provides access to fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy products on a weekly basis. This program design allows the senior to make choices. They are able to take advantage of sales that were beyond them due to their lack of mobility. As there is no delivery charge, most are able to stay within the fixed income many must live on. This program allows the senior to be an independent member of their community.

The program recruits and trains a volunteer base to deliver the service. Volunteers are given background checks and schooled in confidentiality. Volunteers are trained in good listening skills and they are encouraged to spend some time visiting with the program participants when delivering the groceries to help diminish feeling of isolation and loneliness. This also contributes to the participant's ability to live independently in his or her own homes. Volunteers are able to deliver items that are beyond the strength of most elderly people (canned goods and laundry products for example).

The participant calls in the grocery orders to the ESN office on Monday morning between 9:00 a.m. and noon. On holidays other arrangements are made. The orders are written down and then faxed to participating grocery stores. Volunteers are also contacted on Monday and told what store to shop at.. On Tuesday the volunteer will go to the store, shop for the requested items. The store will give the volunteer an addressed envelope and the cash register receipt, which will be given to the participant. The senior then mails payment back to the store. No money is handled by the volunteer. The participating stores have reported the program is good for their businesses and their clerks often act as referral sources for the program. And, the participant chooses the store each week. The stores allow the seniors to use coupons and stamps for the advertised specials. They simply return them when they mail in their payment. ESN has provided a one day workshop on nutrition and food preparation. The program was started in Virginia MN in 1999. In 2000 a branch was opened in Hibbing, MN. In 2001 the program was expanded to Gilbert, Mt. Iron and Chisholm, MN. The ESN offices and three staff facilitate the programs. Volunteers assist in the office as well as in the stores. The program can be moved to most any community.

Honorable Mentions 

Senior Wheels United Services for Older Adults, Greensboro, North Carolina

The S.A.G.E. Project, The Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc., Uniontown, Ohio;

Centralized Geriatric Nursing Assessment Service DuPage County Health Department, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. 

We received 16 nominations this year, all of which truly excelled in program innovation. It is our hope that these model programs can be replicated in an effort to enhance services to the aging population in the United States.