Weekend Meals for Homebound Seniors

by Meals on Wheels People

We received this letter recently from Mary B, who recieves hot meals from Meals on Wheels People 7 days a week:

"Thank you so much for your meal deliveries. Up until six months ago, I was getting around fine -- driving, shopping, cooking -- until I came down with vertigo and was reduced to nothing! My friends came to my rescue and insisted I sign up for Meals on Wheels and now everything is getting better. I like your meals and, since I cannot get out to go grocery shopping, they make a big difference. I never thought I would live to be age 92! Thank you for everything."

Mary is typical of many of those we serve. She is widowed, lives on her own and has little access to fresh food. Our hot, weekday and weekend meals allow her to remain independent and living in her own home. The volunteer driver is often the only person Mary will see on an average day. The Meals on Wheels driver not only delivers a hot, nutritious meal, but provides a wellness check to ensure that Mary is okay every day. The cost of providing a daily hot meal to a homebound senior is just $1,320 annually, while the cost of institutional care can be $60,000 or more for a year. 

Between Feb. 15 and May 15, 2015, Meals on Wheels People served and delivered more than 317,500 meals to older adults in the greater Portland-Vancouver metro area. We are very grateful to the donors through Global Giving who help make that possible.

"Sam" is widowed and lives alone. After her husband died suddenly, she found herself lonely and depressed. She began to attend the the senior meal site in Gresham, Oregon where she was soon engaged as a daily volunteer. 

“There is no question that the people at the Ambleside Center were a lifeline for me and helped me through my depression,” Sam said. “Before I knew it, I was volunteering! I can’t do the whole job – I know I have limitations – but I do what I can and they welcome what skills I do have.”

Sam recently fell at home and broke a couple of ribs and is now receiving Meals on Wheels. “I’m seeing the program from an entirely different angle now,” she said with a laugh. “Some of the volunteers I saw at the center every day are now delivering my meals. It’s interesting to see the different personalities of the drivers. I can see how a little friendly visit can make a world of difference to a homebound senior.”

Sam is one of thousands of seniors we serve daily -- and who depend on Meals on Wheels for both daily sustenance and a friendly visit. This service is even more vital for those, like Sam, who receive meals on the weekends as well. They typically have no access to fresh food other than what the Meals on Wheels People volunteer brings them. For many, the only whole fruit they see is what comes in their lunch. The cost of providing a year of meals to a homebound senior is $1,320 while the cost of institutional care is upwards of $60,000 annually. Meals on Wheels allows seniors to age in place, enriching our neighborhoods and allowing them to maintain their dignity. We are very appreciative of the many donations that have come in from Global Giving to help us maintain this program.

Our participant surveys indicate that 20% of the seniors who receive Weekend Meals are eating only one meal a day - the one we bring them. These seniors would go hungry on the weekends if not for the Weekend Meal Program. We received this note from a senior who receives weekend meals: "Thank you so much for coming to my rescue. You do a good deed and I hope people see the good you do."

More than 25% of those we serve live at or below poverty and most do not have access to fresh food. Our hot,nutritious meals not only provide them with 1/3 of the RDA for an older adult, but include fresh, whole fruit like oranges and pears. Hot weekend meals allow frail, homebound seniors to remain independent and living in their own homes. Many chronic conditions can be aided by a nutritious diet.The cost to provide a year of meals to a homebound senior is $1,320 while the cost of a year in a nursing home is upwards of $60,000. 

The number of seniors requesting Meals on Wheels has increased bynearly 8% in the last year. An interesting trend is that a large part of this increase is among "younger" seniors age 60 to 69. Most have not prepared financially for retirement and they are sicker than those the same age a decade ago. As baby boomers continue to age, we have the capacity to expand our program to meet the growing need. This is due, in part, to the generous donations like those that come from Global Giving. We are grateful for your support of seniors in our community.

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.


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Organization Information

Meals on Wheels People

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.mealsonwheelspeople.org/​
Project Leader:
Julie Piper Finley
Portland, OR United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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