At a time of polarization, when so many Americans can agree on so little, Meals on Wheels stands as an exemplar. Whatever quibbles one might have with the way the program is run (and, frankly, we know of none), there is no arguing with the premise: Far too many of our elders are hungry and lonely and they benefit from regular contact with friendly faces bearing food.
Most of us have heard about Meals on Wheels. It’s the national program run in hundreds of local communities like ours, established to provide nutritious meals, a quick safety check, and, perhaps most important of all, a human connection for homebound seniors. It would be unnecessary if we cared more for our elders. It should be shocking that 9 million seniors live with food insecurity, 15 million in isolation, and 18 million at the poverty line, according to the national nonprofit.
Nationwide, more than 2.4 million people over the age of 60 benefit from local Meals on Wheels programs. Twenty percent of clients come from the ranks of our nation’s veterans. They are retired school teachers and bus drivers and other essential workers. They are our parents and grandparents. Sixty-four percent are women; 4 in 10 live in poverty.
About a third of the cost of preparing meals is borne by the federal government as a result of the Older Americans Act. Local communities like ours shoulder the rest of this burden of love. The program in Pacifica, for example, gets funding from the city and county as well as Pacificans Care. Here on the coast, meals are delivered Monday through Friday.
Over the last week or so, local communities, including Half Moon Bay and Pacifica, have commemorated the importance of the program by proclaiming this month March for Meals. Communities are marking the occasion in different ways. For instance, in Half Moon Bay, organizers have involved local politicians to help prepare and deliver meals and, just as importantly, raise awareness about this crucial community asset. Half Moon Bay City Councilmembers Deborah Penrose, Harvey Rarback and Debbie Ruddock were scheduled to participate, as were state Sen. Josh Becker and San Mateo County Executive Officer Mike Callagy. Elsewhere in today’s newspaper, you can read about U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo’s appearance on behalf of Meals on Wheels at Senior Coastsiders.
Together, the programs in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay deliver meals and smiles from Pescadero all the way north to Pacifica.
One reason for the March on Wheels campaign is to involve more of us as volunteers. It might seem like a big commitment, but as with most volunteer posts, a Meals on Wheels commitment often can be tailored around your schedule. Deliveries can be made during the lunch hour, and no one expects it to be your full-time job. If you are interested, call the local senior center and find out about shadowing a current volunteer.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.