We're all hoping that the worst of the recession is over and that things are looking up. Many property markets are on their way back and while unemployment is still too high for anyone's liking, we're not where we were several years ago.
But many Americans are still going hungry and are also combating isolation. One significant group is older Americans.
Meals on Wheels is a group dedicated to feeding senior Americans and those who cannot leave their homes. Older Americans without physical impediments can head to senior centers for a nutritious free meal.
Meals on Wheels provides this service to all fifty states as well as to all U.S. territories. They estimate that they have between 800,000 and 1.7 million volunteers, and with their partners they serve a staggering one million free meals per day.
According to the organization Feeding America, they feed about 3 million senior Americans every year and have found that 9 million adults over the age of 50 (and 4 million over the age of 50) live in households that are "food insecure".
Being food insecure means that a person has difficulty accessing nutritious food on a regular basis for financial reasons, or for reasons of limited mobility/access to food.
They project that this number will rise by 50 percent when the last of the baby boomers turn 60.
They also report that seniors are more likely to be food insecure if they:
• Live in a southern state
• Are younger
• Live with a grandchild
• Are African American
• Are Hispanic
For seniors, protecting themselves from food insecurity and hunger is more difficult than for the general population.
For example, a study that focused on the experience of food insecurity among the elderly population found that food insecure seniors sometimes had enough money to purchase food but did not have the resources to access or prepare food due to lack of transportation, functional limitations, or health problems. http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-facts/senior-hunger.a...
Meals on Wheels doesn't just provide meals to poorer seniors. They also provide something that is almost as important - companionship.
While time is often of the essence, volunteers manage to have a chat with seniors as they bring in their new meals and remove reusable items from the meals delivered the next day.
This can be vital to isolated seniors who can advise volunteers if they need help for any other reason. If seniors get meals on a daily basis and do not answer the door to a Meals on Wheels volunteer it can signal that there is an emergency inside and an alarm can be immediately raised.
Sometimes, sadly, a Meals on Wheels volunteer can be the only visitor a senior receives if they are house-bound. Seniors that can get to a center where Meals on Wheels provide food also benefit from the companionship of others, and can communicate any concerns they have.
If you have time to volunteer or could benefit for their programs, contact Meals on Wheels here: http://www.mowaa.org/
Are you or do you know an older American that needs this kind of assistance? Are you a volunteer?
Feeding America.org. Senior Hunger. Web. Retrieved Nov 8th 2012.
Reviewed November 12, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith