With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I wanted to let you know a couple of things. Did you know that ~9 million seniors in the United States struggle with hunger? That’s one in six; and that one in 4 live alone? I talk today with Ellie Hollander, the President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. The organization is doing great things to assist our most vulnerable senior population. But they are struggling to keep up with the need.
There are over 5,000 individual Meals on Wheels programs nationwide. They serve meals to ~2.3 million seniors/year. That’s a pretty impressive number. But what it doesn’t tell you is that they are serving 16 million fewer meals than in 2005. And that some seniors are “wait listed”, meaning they go hungry. Why?
It’s all about the money. Ellies shared that <2% of all philanthropy is targeted towards seniors or aging related issues. Just for comparison, according to the US Census Bureau, the number of people age 65 and older will grow from about 15 percent to 17 percent between 2017 and 2020. And by 2060, that number will be more like 25%. These numbers just don’t add up to a good outcome for seniors.
We really need to think about what that means for us as a society. There will clearly be a financial impact on everyone. Don’t you think we should be thinking about (and more importantly) DOING something about this now? Meals on Wheels is a solidly based organization, that can assist seniors and their families in many ways:
- providing a nutritious meal to a highly vulnerable population
- provide eyes and ears for changes inside the home
- can provide feedback to loved ones and/or healthcare providers about changes
- can be part of the solution to keeping people out of the hospital and long-term care facililties
Meals on Wheels can serve a meal to a senior daily for less than the cost of one day in the hospital, or 10 days in a nursing home. AND, the infrastructure already exists!! Let’s help this organization help our seniors and help us as a society do the right thing. How can you help? Thanks for asking!
- Donate–to the National organization or to a local program
- Volunteer–check the website for opporunities in your area
- Advocate–Talk to your local politicians about sponsoring legislation and/or philanthropists about making a donation
Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving!