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How to Help Meal Delivery Programs Hit by Food, Fuel Costs

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,


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!


Join The Conversation
amybdk amybdk 9 years
Thanks for shedding light on this, Citizen.
kia kia 9 years
I am pretty sad thinking about this story. We already undervalued our elderly when our economy was doing well. This does not bode well for them.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Sort of makes all the piddly partisan political remarks seem so stupid when you think of an 80 year old sitting alone without food or companionship.
Auntie-Coosa Auntie-Coosa 9 years
When the USofA became a mobile society, one of the important relationships which changed drastically was the extended family. No longer do family members live within walking distance of one another. No longer do communities have the same dynamics as before. What has happened is that "no one is around to help Grandma and Grandpa (and in some cases Great Grandma and Great Grandpa)." The "Greats" may be living in retirement communities and subsidized housing and their own homes. Often times they are miles and States away from their nearest relative. So what happened? Instead of a child or grandchild being in close proximity to a parent or grandparent in order to make sure the relative was getting meals, the house cleaned, etc, the Church stepped in. And in some cases, the Church is still the main provisioner for their elderly. But in many many cases, in countless towns and cities across the USofA, if it were not for Senior Citizen Centers who bus the elderly in and feed them and those HomeBound elderly they know of and can afford to feed with the assistance of drivers from "Meals on Wheels" and similar programs, a large segment of the elderly population would starve to death. (Or would starve to death sooner.) We, the USofA, are negligent when it comes to our elders. We worship at the altar of "youth" and even our older public citizens (including actor/actresses, news media, legislators, etc) have face-lifts in order to appear young. We disrespect age and maturity and wisdom. We allow young people to treat the elderly with disdain. Youth says: "I won't respect you (old person) until you respect me." And the older person thinks: "What happened to the phrase 'respect your elders' which my generation grew up with?" The "baby-boomers" are beginning to retire, if they're able and if none of their children have returned home. Their idea of retirement does not include caring for an elderly parent. They've forgotten the "honor your father and mother" part of the Commandment. And as they treat their parents, so shall their children and grandchildren treat them. What goes around comes around. If you have elderly relatives who cannot live without some assistance and are unable financially (or meet the medical criteria) to enter an assisted living or nursing home, then you need to do some hard thinking about how you can help your extended family. Maybe donating to their local "Meals on Wheels" or other agency who is feeding them. Maybe reconsidering your options and moving back "home" to where your parents or grandparents are so that you can help look after them. Family is connectedness to humanity.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Now this is truly sad and awful. It's terrible for anyone to go hungry, but especially so when it's our elderly.
Bettyesque Bettyesque 9 years
Its easy to lose sight of things like this when we all are struggling in our own way. I think I am going to look into volunteering for this.
annebreal annebreal 9 years
I hadn't really thought about this either. Hopefully they can get grants to cover gas costs for their volunteers; I can understand how that'd become a hardship for them.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Its all our duties to take care of the elderly, nothing more upsetting than thinking they are in need.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
wow - you know, i didn't even think about this type of implication to the whole gas hike thing. i know that everyone thought about how it would affect their errands and all that - but if you stop to think about how there will be an impact to the elderly who require assistance from others for food and getting to the dr's really something major. i hope that there's some solution/resolution to this becuase we really need to remember that there should be respect and care given to the elderly.
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