Curriculum: Seniors Eating Well

This curriculum is intended to improve the nutrition and health status of middle-aged and older adults.
Curriculum: Seniors Eating Well - Articles


Course Details

These updated lessons are designed to reach older adults at places they congregate—senior centers, low-income housing community centers, and other senior housing centers. They can also be used with middle-older adults (aged 50-65) at work sites, clubs, churches, or other organizations. Most are designed to be presented by para-professionals—educators with no academic degree in nutrition, but rather trained by nutrition professionals about senior nutrition needs in general and how to present these lessons. They can also be used by family consumer science and nutrition educators as “pick up and go” lesson plans. Lastly, nurses, staff from aging services, or volunteers can be trained to use these lessons.

Each lesson includes all the information you need—lesson plans, Power Point slides, handouts, evaluation tools, and references. The topics were all picked to be of interest to seniors by seniors, and by the aging and health care professionals who serve them. Most have recipes to make and taste-test. Many have an educational game format to make it fun and interesting. We find that seniors respond well to educators who facilitate discussions, ask questions and engage them, but still clearly express the underlying educational need that ties better nutrition to better health and disease prevention.

Each lesson takes roughly 45 minutes to present. They can be taught individually or as a series. All lessons were piloted by multiple nutrition educators and updated with 2015-20 USDA Dietary Guidelines, MyPlate, and evaluation tools. In the Table of Contents they are grouped by educational themes with the program titles listed afterward. The educational matrix in the appendix shows how each lesson’s objectives conform with the Dietary Guidelines. The pilots have shown positive impact—by increasing knowledge, skills/abilities, intent to change behaviors, and behavior change using 3-6 month follow-up surveys. Significant differences have been demonstrated by matching individuals’ pre- and post-behaviors using student t-tests.


Introduction and Overview

Meal Planning and Decision Making Programs:

  • Lesson 1 – Great Grain Discoveries
  • Lesson 2 – All Star Senior Snacks
  • Lesson 3 – Heart Healthy Meals

Food Preparation Programs:

  • Lesson 4 – Cooking and Seasoning with Herbs
  • Lesson 5 – Savory Soups
  • Additional Handout - Double Strength Calcium Recipes

Social Relationships and Fitness Program:

  • Lesson 6 – Fitness Fun

Diet, Health and Chronic Disease Prevention Programs:

  • Lesson 7 – Evaluating Dietary Supplements for Seniors
  • Lesson 8 – Dietary Fat—Fact or Fiction?
  • Lesson 9 – New Concepts in Weight Control—Energy Density


  • Educational Planning Matrix: U.S. 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines, Lesson Objectives
  • Post Survey Example
  • Sample Excel Spreadsheet for Data Collection

Order Curriculum

The curriculum, updated with the 2015-2020 Dietary guidelines costs $75 and can be ordered with the Seniors Eating Well Curriculum Order Form .

For more information, contact

Educator Resources

Prepared by: Lynn James, MS, RD, LDN., Extension Educator, Penn State Extension.

Contributor and Editor: Dori Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, Extension Educator, Penn State Extension.

Reviewers and Editors: Matthew Kaplan, Ph.D, Intergenerational Programs and Aging, Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education.

Curriculum Design and Layout: Barbara Bartley, Staff Assistant-retired, Penn State Extension