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North Dakota Human Services announces guidelines for reopening senior meal sites

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BISMARCK —The North Dakota Department of Human Services announced reopening guidelines for senior meal sites, meaning older residents may soon return to in-person dining a the state's 170 locations.

DHS guidance applies to senior nutrition providers which receive Older Americans Act funding to provide on-site group dining, home-delivered meals or other meal options. The sides will need to comply with the Department of Health's Food and Lodging guidelines.

Prior to reopening, the providers must submit a proposal to Human Services' Aging Services Division describing how the facility plans to meet guidelines.

"Decisions to reopen will vary based on local needs and capacity," Nancy Nikolas Maier, the Aging Services Division Director, said via news release. "We are available to work with any providers interested in reopening on-site dining in accordance with the current guidance."

Maier recommended providers continue to offer meal options beyond in-person dining such as home delivery, prepackaged grab-and-go meals, curbside pickup or frozen meals.

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Facilities can only allow 50% of capacity, must maintain physical distancing and food must be served by employees. Individuals who dine at a meal site will have the responsibility to adhere to guidelines as well.

The number of meals provided increased 15% from March to April as many first-time users took advantage of the program, according to the news release. North Dakota received nearly $4.5 million in federal funding to adjust for the increase in participation and rise in costs associated with preparation and delivery of prepackaged meals.

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