An Administration for Community Living grant funded the Innovations in Nutrition project led by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), with the Shepherd Center Central as the primary agency. Immediate stakeholders and participants were identified as Covenant Community Food Pantry and Health & Wellness Center. 

The Innovations in Nutrition project is a statewide effort funded by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The ACL has a mission to “Maximize the independence, well-being, and health of older adults, people with disabilities across the lifespan, and their families and caregivers,” according to their website

The project has two sites testing ways to make home-delivered meals and nutrition programs more effective. The Kansas City site is led by MARC, Department of Aging and Adult Services. In this Kansas City program, in-home, AI-enabled “smart” speakers will be used to improve service, delivery, and cost-effectiveness of in-home nutrition for older people at high risk of malnutrition. 

The expectation is that the smart speaker approach will reduce access barriers to good nutrition by opening up communication on numerous nutrition choices. They are very programmable, and things like creating grocery lists, browsing and ordering, and arranging home delivery will be available services. 

There are about 2,500 elderly at high risk for malnutrition. They are highly socially isolated, and many receive just one meal a day. There is already a strong network of food pantries and other food resources in the Kansas City Area working to combat this problem. However, there is a problematic disconnect between the resources and the population that needs them. This project is working to alleviate this problem by providing a direct connection point via the smart speakers. This is also a push for choice, which isn’t always available at the food pantry. 

The Administration for Community Living issued the grant to encourage health promotion, evidence-based programming, and activities with health providers. A total of $138,000 was issued to MARC in Kansas City. The grant funded 60 participants over two years, including technology, transportation, and staff. 

To learn more about MARC, visit their website:

James Stowe, a regular KC Digital Drive Health Innovation Team attendee, presented to the rest of the team on November 29, 2017. 

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