It's easy to see the economic toll on food and fuel in our own everyday lives — but the effect is trickling down past commuters and bargain shoppers to silver citizens who rely on meal delivery programs to survive. Advocates for the elderly nationwide are concerned that many seniors are going or will go hungry soon — and blame the 20 percent increase in fuel and food prices over the past year, as well as leveling or reduced government subsidies and a failing economy.
According to the Meals on Wheels Association of America, nearly 60 percent of the 5,000 programs have lost volunteers, most of whom say they can no longer afford gas. This has resulted in the elimination or consolidation of entire routes and nearly 38 percent are now serving frozen instead of hot meals. Another 30 percent are reducing personal visits from five to one day per week. To see how some states are fighting back, and what you can do to help, read more.
In West Virginia, where nearly 15 percent of the population is above 60 years of age and more than two-thirds live in rural communities, lawmakers have furnished an extra $1 million to aid agencies with food and gas. Without this assistance, the West Virginia Bureau of Senior Services would be forced to eliminate nearly 113,000 meals and allow 100,000 fewer trips for doctors appointments.
Many states are facing similar hardships for the poor and elderly and in some cases like New York, they won’t be able to provide extra funding — forcing the city to cut back on services. Meetings are currently underway there to decide who will no longer receive meals and visits. In California, senior programs are facing a 10 percent cut in funding.
In the meantime, you can help a senior citizen continue to receive the food aid they need. Check out Meals on Wheels to find out how to how to donate your time, money, or start a new program of your own!