A weekend meal client recently sent us this note: "It is so comforting to know that I will be getting a good hot meal every day, especially since cooking for myself is more of a challenge. What I look froward to the most is seeing the people who deliver my meals. They are so friendly and helpful and I am so lonely."
Hot weekend meals for homebound seniors is more than just a meal. It is a connection to the outside world, a friendly smile, a hug, a lifeline for those that are isolated and living in poverty. For the seniors we serve in this program, the meal we bring is often their only food of the day and the volunteer driver is their only visit of the day. Hot weekend meals allow frail, homebound seniors to remain independent and living in their own homes. The cost of Meals on Wheels for a year is $1,320 while the cost of a year in institutional care is upwards of $60,000.
We continue to deliver hot weekend meals to homebound seniors as well as provide chilled, take-home weekend meals for seniors at our 34 neighborhood dining centers who request them. As baby boomers continue to age and enter the ranks of retirement, we are adapting our program to meet their needs. More than 50% of those who eat in our dining rooms are requesting take-home meals for the weekends. This is due partly to the rising rate of poverty among those 60 and older (upwards of 25%) and the fact that many have no source of fresh food for a variety of reasons (food deserts, poverty, living alone, etc.).
We are extremely grateful to Global Giving and its donors for helping us continue to provide this very basic service to vulnerable seniors in our community.
Meals on Wheels People continues to provide hot, nutritious meals to homebound seniors throughout the greater Portland-Vancouver metro area. Our recent client surveys have shown that a large number of homebound seniors rely on the meals we provide for the bulk of their nutrition each day. While our core service is hot meal delivery Monday through Friday, most of our 3,000 daily clients now receive two frozen meals each Friday. Those who are the most frail or have no ability to prepare a hot meal receive hot weekend meals.
We are expanding our weekend meal program to include the 2,000 seniors who dine each weekday at our 34 neigborhood centers. For the first time in our 44 years of service, client surveys indicate that seniors are motivated to come into the centers for the meal rather than the fellowship. This is a major shift. And, more than 50% of the diners are requesting take-home meals for the weekend. We are ramping up our production and seeking additional funding from foundations and corporations to cover the additional cost of weekend meals.
Since 2002, Meals on Wheels People has been preparing for the onslaught of baby boomers. That day has come. Each day we add more seniors to our rolls and the majority of the new diners are between the ages of 60 and 69. This group of seniors is poorer and sicker than those we serve who are much older. Many baby boomers were unprepared financially for retirement and have chronic illnesses that prevent them from leaving their homes. We anticipate that these numbers will continue to grow as baby boomers retire in the coming decade.
We received this letter just last week from a senior:
We wish to thank you for the beautiful Easter card and more so for the generosity of the good people who deliver the tasty and wonderful meals we enjoy. Thank you and God bless you!
We are very grateful to the Global Giving donors who allow us to continue to deliver hot meals and companionship to frail, homebound seniors in our community.
Thank you for your support of senior nutrition in our community. Meals on Wheels People has seen an 8% increase in requests for Meals on Wheels over the past year. In the past six months, we have served 26,000 more meals than we had budgeted for. The increase has come primarily from Multnomah County among low-income seniors. We also continue to see a spike in the number of "younger" seniors, age 60 to 69. This is due to a number of factors: those who may have lost their job during the economic downturn have been unable to find work; younger seniors who have retired but are financially unprepared for retirement; general poverty among seniors. Our recent client surveys indicate that as many as 25% of the seniors we serve live at or below poverty. This is an indication that the service we provide is not a luxury, but a basic necessity of life for thousands of seniors in the metro area.
What is equally as important as the food, is the friendly visit from volunteers. For many of the seniors we serve, the meal we bring is their only food of the day and the volunteer is the only person they see. Here is a letter we recently received from a client:
"I like to see a nice friendly face each day as I am quite lonely. It's hard to cook for one person, so I am eating better now."
Another senior wrote: "Meals on Wheels People are a blessing in my life!"
Delivering hot meals and friendly smiles is made possible, in part, because of the gifts through Global Giving. Thank you for carring about seniors!
We continue to serve an increasing number of meals to homebound seniors, both on weekends and weekdays. Recent client surveys show that 25% of the homebound seniors we serve live at or below poverty. For many of them, the meals we provide are their only food on the weekends. Our meals are not a luxury. They are often what allow frail, homebound seniors to remain independent and living in their own homes. And the need is growing. We have served 27% more meals between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2013 than in the same time period in 2012. We annually plan for a growth in meals betwen 3% and 5%, so this jump in service requests is unprecedented.
And we are serving "younger" seniors. Our largest area of growth is for those seniors between the ages of 60 and 69. This is because of two main causes: more baby boomers are turning 60 each day and those that are have not prepared physcially or financially for retirement. They are turning to Meals on Wheels People to help supplement small, fixed incomes.
Our vision is that no senior will go hungry or experience social isolation. For more than 44 years, Meals on Wheels People has provided hot meals to every senior who requests them. Unlike 80% of the senior nutrition programs in this country, we have no waiting list for meals. We depend on donors like those who give throughj GlobalGiving to help us maintain that reputation. Thank you for caring about seniors in our community.
The Weekend Meal Program for Seniors at the Elm Court Center in downtown Portland is an ongoing program. Meals on Wheels People serves and delivers 5,000 meals every weekday to seniors in three counties through 34 neighborhood dining rooms and Meals on Wheels service. We are open at only one location on weekends -- Elm Court. This location serves some of our most financially vulnerable seniors. Many of them live in small apartments or residential hotels without cooking facilities. If not for our meal program, they would have no access to fresh food on weekends.
Between July 1 and Sept. 15, 2013, we served 1,122 meals to seniors on the weekends. That conpares to 866 meals served in the same time period the previous year. Our annual client surveys indicate that more seniors than ever before are living at or below poverty. In 2009, the poverty rate among seniors was just 9%. In 2013, that number in Multnomah County (where our Elm Court Center operates) had jumped to 25%. Seniors are looking to Meals on Wheels People for fresh, nutritious meals they cannot provide for themselves on their limited incomes. The Elm Court Center also provides a safe gathering place for seniors, many of whom live alone.
The cost of a senior meal is just $3.95. We are very grateful to the Global Giving donors for their generous support of senior nutrition.
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