“Eat Right, Bite by Bite” with Iona’s Nutrition Team

March 11, 2020

Healthy aging encompasses a lifelong love of good food and positive food experiences. Every March since 1980, the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics leads a month-long celebration, National Nutrition Month®, dedicated to the role food and nutrition play in living a healthy lifestyle. The theme for 2020 is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite.” The overall message is that the best diet isn’t restrictive, and that meaningful, small changes over time add up to better overall physical and emotional health and wellness.

As Iona’s Nutrition Program Manager and RDN since 2008, I have the privilege of working with a wonderful team of professionals and volunteers:

  • Jakia Muhammad: Home Delivered Meals Coordinator, Supplement Program Coordinator
  • Michele McNally: Home Delivered and Holiday Meals Volunteer, Supplement Volunteer, Volunteer Grocery Shopper
  • Judy Portnoy: Former longtime Weekend Meals Volunteer
  • Jean Johnson, MS, RDN: Volunteer Nutritionist
  • Ashlea Steiner: Former Food Access and Farm to Table Coordinator and Iona’s DC Administration on Aging Project Director
  • Chris Brentin, MS, LDN, CNS: Part-time Nutritionist
  • Courtney Tolbert: Program Manager, Iona’s Active Wellness Program at St. Alban’s
  • Nathaniel Tolbertsmith: St. Alban’s Assistant and Weekend Meals Coordinator
  • Tania Sechriest: Volunteer Program Manager and Weekend Meals Coordinator

We are ground zero for all of Iona’s critical food and nutrition programs, which include:

  • Home-delivered weekday and weekend meals provided to 175 older adults weekly
  • Weekend meals delivered to 105 older adults every weekend by teams of dedicated volunteers
  • Weekday “lunches with friends” at Iona’s Active Wellness Program at St. Alban’s, our on-site Wellness & Arts Center in Ward 3, and our *NEW* soon-to-open adult day health center in the Congress Heights neighborhood in Ward 8
  • Home delivered holiday meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas day
  • Food pantry with shelf-stable, nutritious food staples for Iona clients
  • High calorie/high protein liquid nutrition supplements for 83 year-to-date nutritionally vulnerable, frail clients monthly
  • Assistance with benefit programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps) and the Grocery Plus program
  • Healthy food demonstrations and nutrition education sessions
  • Pea Pod Market Program providing weekly free fresh produce
  • SHARE food network monthly “grocery basket” program
  • Access to a Licensed RDN or Licensed Nutritionist (Certified Nutrition Specialist) to provide personalized nutrition assessments for our highest nutrition-risk clients
  • Advocacy efforts on behalf of reducing senior hunger and malnutrition in our DC community

In honor of National Nutrition Month® 2020, here are some simple ways you can shift your eating habits and lifestyle, and put a new spin on positive aging:

  • Think positively about your relationship with food and your body
  • Be active – physically, socially, mentally, and emotionally
  • Focus on your overall dietary pattern, not specific “superfoods” or trendy restrictive diets
  • As author, professor, and food activist Michael Pollan says: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” as advised by a Mediterranean diet pattern
  • Get cooking!
  • Eat less added sugar, desserts, sodas and juice drinks, refined grains, sodium/salt, fatty meats, and highly processed or junk food
  • Eat more dried beans and legumes, whole grains, leafy greens, other vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils such as olive oil
  • Address age-specific nutrient concerns
  • Try to eat seafood – fish or shellfish – twice a week to help get enough omega-3 fats
  • Stay hydrated
  • Explore new foods and flavors

To put action to healthy eating intentions, try preparing one of our favorite recipes: Black-Eyed Pea Salsa (click here for the recipe). This bean salad/salsa recipe is delicious served over salad greens and lasts for several days in the fridge. We hope you enjoy it!

By Rose Clifford, RDN, MBA


Rose Clifford, RDN, MBA has practiced as a registered dietitian nutritionist in the Washington, DC area for many years. Her current primary work as the Nutrition Program Manager for Iona Senior Services focuses on helping older adults maximize their nutritional health so they can live active, full lives in their own homes. Rose is an active member of the Age-Friendly DC Nutrition Sub-Committee, the DC Administration on Aging Nutrition Task Force, and the DC Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier (an international philanthropic organization of women leaders in the areas of food, nutrition, fine beverage, and hospitality).

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