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Field Reports

Food, Freedom, and Choice: Balancing Nutrition and Independence in Group Homes

Hayleigh Rockenback, Emerson Fellow
Published 2022-2023

Quincy, Massachusetts

Approximately 8,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities or acquired brain injuries live in long-term residential care facilities in Massachusetts. These settings are intended to provide comfort, freedom, and autonomy for adults with developmental disabilities as well as promote the transition to independent living. However, following Massachusetts Executive Order 509, the Department of Health created the State Agency Food Standards document that recommends and requires nine state agencies to purchase certain foods. However, the document created is not only outdated, but applied too broadly to a diverse range of settings and has unintended, uneven, and harmful consequences in group home settings. This paper lays out recommendations for how to address this issue and develop state policies that would better reflect the purpose of group homes and promote autonomy, choice, and independence in an essential aspect of community living and health: food.

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Publication tags: Field Reports - Health, Nutrition and Hunger

Rockenback headshot

Hayleigh Rockenback

Emerson Fellow