Patti Lyons, Guest Columnist.
This month, Senior Citizens, Inc., and the entire Meals on Wheels network will celebrate March for Meals.
This annual celebration commemorates the historic day in March of 1972 when President Nixon signed into law a measure that amended the Older Americans Act of 1965 to include a national nutrition program for seniors 60 years of age and older. This 50-year-old vital public-private partnership provides millions of seniors with essential services that help them remain healthier and independent at home.
Of course, the 50-year milestone is nothing new to us at Senior Citizens, Inc., where we have been helping people age successfully since 1959. We know that programs like Meals on Wheels are critical to addressing food insecurity and malnutrition, combatting social isolation, enabling independence, and improving health for years to come.
Nationwide, here are just a few ways Meals on Wheels programs are making a difference:
• Millions of volunteers deliver 221 million meals to 2.4 million seniors each year.
• Daily home-delivered meals help keep eight out of 10 recipients who have previously fallen from falling again.
• 58% of home-delivered meal recipients live alone, and for many of them, the person delivering the meal is often the only person they will see that day.
• Meals on Wheels can serve a senior for an entire year for about the same cost as just one day in a hospital or 10 days in a nursing home.
• Nine out of 10 recipients say Meals on Wheels helps them live independently and improves their health.
While the past two years have been challenging, they’ve also caused us to rise to the occasion for seniors across four counties. Last fiscal year, we saw a 30% growth in Meals on Wheels, and our kitchen served 357,378 meals — 25,642 more than the previous year. That includes 21,901 meals in Liberty County.
After going through the lockdown, many of us for the first time experienced what older adults go through on a daily basis. I am reminded of what one of our Meals on Wheels clients, Mr. B, had to say about the program: “Meals on Wheels hasn’t missed any dinners at all, and to be that faithful during a pandemic really says something about the quality of the program. We have hot meals delivered to our door and not everybody has that. We thank the Lord for a program like this one.”
Hearing what this program means is humbling, to say the least, and we look forward to the next 50 years. Won’t you come join us as a volunteer, supporter, or client as we continue to serve this community?
Patti Lyons is president of Senior Citizens, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Savannah and coastal Georgia that has been helping people age successfully since 1959. For more information, call (912) 236-0363 or visit seniorcitizensinc.org.