Meals on Wheels: Seniors, The Hidden Hungry

November 9, 2016

Did you know that today in America over 9.6 Million seniors are food insecure?

In San Diego County there are over 131,000 seniors that aren’t sure where there next meal is coming from or have the ability to grocery shop, let alone cook for themselves. These are not the seniors you see out and about every day, but those who have difficulty with daily living activities, they are homebound. Often times they make hard choices between housing, medications or food.

The senior population, especially those over the age of 85, is the fastest growing segment of the population in California and as the Baby Boomers continue to age, they will push these statistics even higher.  According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more Americans are reaching the age of 100 than ever before. Not only are centenarians merely reaching this momentous age, they are living even longer. Improved healthcare and other environmental factors contribute to increased survival leading to advanced ages.

“People are more aware of their health, of the importance of staying active and eating healthy food,” according to the author of the report, Jiaquan Xu, M.D. Just this past year Meals on Wheels San Diego County Diego served 28 individuals over the age of 100! These individuals have not only reached the age of 100, some are 103 and 104.

Meals on Wheels San Diego County experiences this longevity factor on a daily basis. Not only are we serving more individuals at older ages, but our volunteer ranks are filled with retirees in their 80’s and 90’s. In fact, we have staff members who are still robust and working part time in their 80’s!

It is obvious as our population ages; there is an ever increasing demand for our services. Meals on Wheels San Diego County is currently trending towards delivering a half million meals in a twelve month period of time, almost double the amount in 2009. Every one of our meals that are delivered by a friendly volunteer is subsidized by donations, both big and small. Individuals, corporations and private foundations keep our wheels rolling.

BODY and SOUL

Meals on Wheels is the only agency providing meals for 7 days a week, including holidays. Additionally, we cover the entire county, including delivery into the over 3,049 square miles of rural and unincorporated areas.

Distributing home-delivered meals and safety checks could not be accomplished without the help of over 2900 caring volunteers who deliver meals with a hug and a smile and ensure our homebound seniors are OK. Frequently the volunteer may be the only person the senior sees all day, providing human contact and a safety net, particularly for those seniors living alone. Lives are saved nearly every week as a result of acquiring the proper emergency personnel for someone who has fallen, had a stroke, or is simply in need of additional resources.

METAMORPHISIS

Meals on Wheels San Diego County has grown from humble beginnings 56 years ago, delivering to 17 individuals and having hospitals provide our food. Now delivering nearly a half a million meals a year, we continue to change and adapt to the growing need. Through this latest metamorphosis, our goal is to gain more volunteers of all ages to deliver meals and social contact to more seniors throughout the county and to raise the funds necessary to keep seniors independent and in their own homes, where they want to be.

By: Debbie Case, President & CEO Meals on Wheels San Diego County