Working to Address Malnutrition in the Community


Calgary Meals on Wheels is pleased to support the fifth annual Canadian Malnutrition Awareness Week™ campaign, September 23-27, 2019. Malnutrition is a concern for vulnerable older adults living in the community. Nutrition status may be compromised due to a variety of reasons, including physical and mental conditions and social and economic circumstances. This year’s theme, Malnutrition in the Community, focuses on community living seniors and nutrition care for patients recently discharged from hospital.

What do we know about malnutrition in Canada?

  • 1 in 3 seniors have difficulty meeting their nutrition needs.

  • 1 in 4 patients who are admitted to hospital are malnourished, many are older adults.

  • Only 1 in 10 patients discharged from hospital see a dietitian in the community.

  • A malnourished hospital patient will stay two to three days longer than a patient who is well nourished, costing about $2 billion/year to the acute care system. 

What are the effects of malnutrition?

  • Unintentional weight loss

  • Lack of energy

  • Loss of balance

  • Risk of falls

  • Difficulty recovering from illness or injury

  • Loss of independence

What can affect a person’s ability to access good nutrition?

  • Poor appetite

  • Problems chewing or swallowing

  • Loss of taste or smell

  • Depression, anxiety, or dementia

  • Difficulty getting groceries or preparing meals

  • Lack of adequate finances  

  • Eating alone

What can you do for good health and to prevent malnutrition?

  • Eat three meals a day plus snacks.

  • Include high protein food with all your meals and snacks such as meat, poultry, fish, soy, eggs, yogurt, milk, cheese, legumes and nuts.

  • Avoid weight loss, which is often muscle loss.

  • Eat with others whenever possible.

Check out these great resources to help support good nutrition and health:

Meals on Wheels can be part of the solution to support malnutrition reduction in the community, providing nutritious food and valuable social connections for both our clients and our volunteers, and helping to build stronger communities. Our meals are nutritious and can be modified for special dietary needs. Even better, they are conveniently delivered right to your door, ready-to-eat.

Both Calgary and Edmonton Meals on Wheels are launching similar pilot programs providing eligible older adults with short-term meal support after hospital discharge. This program will ease the transition back to independent living, support healthier outcomes for participants, and provide valuable social contact and community support.  This program should improve food security and reduce the anxiety or stress associated with going home without adequate food available.  We are thrilled to be able to pilot such an initiative in our community!

With early detection, and coordinated interventions, we can help to mitigate the hidden impact of a poor diet and hopefully reduce the incidence of malnutrition in our community!

To learn more, visit:

This post was adapted and inspired by the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force 2019 Malnutrition Awareness Week campaign resources.

Kim Jeffery has been a Registered Dietitian for 27 years and is a member of the College of Dietitians of Alberta. For the past 9 years Kim has used her expertise to help ensure the meals produced at Calgary Meals on Wheels are nutritious and healthy for our clients.

Disclaimer: This information is provided by our Registered Dietitian and is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or health professional regarding your individual needs. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.

Calgary Meals on Wheels