A Message from Dr. Marilyn Ditty
Orange County may be the land of plenty for some but not everyone’s living the good life. It’s especially true for thousands of homebound senior citizens who depend on Meals on Wheels for their survival.
A recent study, “Senior Hunger in America 2010: An Annual Report,” was prepared by economists Dr. James P. Ziliak and Dr. Craig Gundersen and released in May by The Meals On Wheels Research Foundation. It concluded there was a substantial increase in food insecurity since the 2007 start of the recession with the number of seniors under the threat of hunger or at risk of hunger increasing nationally by one-quarter from 2007-2010. The researchers found that the Great Recession has had more enduring effects with respect to food insecurity for older Americans than for the general population. For the decade as a whole, there was a 39% increase in the number of seniors under the threat of hunger, a 52% increase who are at risk of hunger, and a 97% increase in those facing hunger.
While the government remains endlessly deadlocked, funds needed to support Meals on Wheels have been cut off. At the same time, food prices have risen some six percent nationally in the past year and gas prices remain high, threatening Meals On Wheels programs that rely on volunteers to deliver meals.
Meals on Wheels provider, Age Well Senior Services, relies on a combination of funds through the Older Americans Act, which has not provided a cost of living increase for four years, and other governmental sources along with gifts, grants and contributions from private and corporate donors.
The organization serves 1,800 seniors daily with educational, nutritional, and social services, providing more than a half million meals to seniors living at home who otherwise have little or no assistance to obtain adequate meals. More than 30 percent of them are living on their social security checks.
To help make up the critical shortfall, Age Well has launched its Next Meal Club, asking donors to make tax-deductible monthly contributions to help provide three nutritious meals daily to homebound seniors. For more information, call 949-855-8033. In a nation and county as great as ours, no one should be going hungry.