Healthy eating is important for everyone. But it can be even more critical as you age, especially if you're living with a chronic condition. Evidence shows that good nutrition gives you more energy and endurance and plays a critical role in preventing and managing conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Unfortunately, nearly 4 million older adults today are food insecure, meaning they lack the means to purchase nutritious food. Here are some tips that can help you know what food you need and how to pay for it.

* Make your calories count. How many calories your body needs as you get older depends on both your age and your level of activity. According to the National Institute on Aging, a moderately active woman older than 50 should consume about 1,800 calories a day to stay at her current weight. For an older man, that number is 2,200 to 2,400. Examples of moderate activity include walking, dancing and swimming.

Just like at younger ages, it's important to get your calories by eating a variety of foods from the five food groups ¬­including whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean protein and dairy, and limit solid fats and added sugars.

* Find help paying for food. For some seniors, especially those who live alone on a fixed limited income, it can be difficult to shop for and afford fresh food on a regular basis. The good news is that there are many programs that can help:

* The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps people with limited incomes afford nutritious food, but very few older adults take advantage of it. In fact, two out of three seniors who are eligible for SNAP actually get the benefit. See what's available in your state.

* Older Americans Act Nutrition Programs provide millions of meals each year to older adults at senior centers. In Garden City we serve lunch promptly at noon at the senior center. The suggested donation is $3 per meal for persons 60-plus. Join us.

* The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides coupons to buy fresh produce at farmers' markets, roadside stands and community gardening programs. This valuable program is available to persons 60-plus who meet income guidelines. More information will be available in the spring.

* USDA Commodity Program provides nonperishable food to persons who meet certain income guidelines. We expect to have a commodities distribution sometime in January. Watch The Telegram for more information.

Next time we will have a nutrition quiz.

Reminder

A senior friend of mine asked me to remind senior hunters and fishermen that persons 65-plus are no longer exempt from purchasing hunting and fishing licenses.

This will become effective Jan. 1, 2013. The exemption age will rise to 75 so all you younger seniors will have to start buying licenses. Don't get caught without a license.

Holiday hours

The senior center and Finney County Transit will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 24 and 25, and again on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, 2013.

Merry Christmas to everyone from the staff and board of directors of the senior center.

Thanks for help

This year, 2012, is the 40th anniversary of Meals on Wheels in Garden City. Many thanks to the volunteers from Garden Valley Retirement Village, Jamie Hitchcock and Duane Riley who delivered Meals on Wheels last week.

Are you interested in helping with Meals on Wheels? Substitute drivers are always needed. If you would like to help, call Patti at 272-3620 or 260-6282.

Transit news

It is time to renew your eligibility to ride the Mini Bus in 2013. Be sure to ask the next time you schedule the bus. Don't delay so you don't lose your service!

Never ridden the Mini Bus? Get an application now before the weather turns bad. Let us do the driving.

Scheduled activities

Thursday, the TOPS Club will meet at 9 a.m., followed by art class at 10 a.m. Gentle exercises start at 11 a.m. The Ambassador Singers practice at 1 p.m. Life Writing group meets at 1 p.m. A Snooker Tournament is planned for 1 p.m. Zumba begins at 5:30 p.m. Yoga starts at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, the day begins with line dancing at 8:30 a.m. A nurse from St. Catherine Hospital will be here from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bridge starts at 12:45 p.m.

Saturday, the pool room is open from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday has duplicate bridge at 2 p.m.

Monday and Tuesday: The senior center and Finney County Transit are closed. Services resume at the regular time on Wednesday, Dec. 26.

Dec. 26 has line dancing at 8:30 a.m. Pinochle starts at 12:40 p.m. No dance is scheduled for this week.

Lunch menus

Lunch is served at noon.

Thursday: Turkey, potatoes and gravy, broccoli, wheat roll, pumpkin pie cake.

Friday: Spaghetti and meat sauce, tossed salad, corn, French bread, applesauce.

Monday and Tuesday: Closed.

Dec. 26: Roast pork with potatoes and gravy, cauliflower, fruit muffin, Waldorf salad.

Check out our website at www.seniorcenterfc.com.