Daily Progress - February 17, 2017 -- Hunger and malnourishment among seniors in America is no joke. The American Academy of Family Physicians has reported that nearly 4 million seniors suffer from malnourishment, and the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger says that 1 senior in 7 is at risk to the threats of hunger. In many cases, this is caused not by poverty, but by seniors not being able to feed themselves — either because they live alone and have trouble cooking or going out to shop, or don’t have the close support of family and caregivers.
For those without the means to hire a personal chef, or who don’t have caregivers who can devote the time, getting on a home-delivered meal program can be a real win-win for seniors and caregivers.
“Our home-delivered meal program has a huge impact on people who receive it,” said Crystal Donovan, who coordinates the Home-Delivered Meal Program for the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA)
. “A number of these people cannot cook for themselves, are on a fixed income and are homebound. Home-delivered meals allow them to stay in their home with at least one healthy meal a day to help offset the possible unhealthy meals they are eating.”
Donovan coordinates the delivery of both Mom’s Meals and Meals on Wheels to JABA clients. Mom’s Meals, a leading for-profit provider of home-delivered meals, delivers bi-weekly (10 meals per box) to clients in areas JABA serves — often remote rural areas in Nelson and Greene counties where Meals on Wheels isn’t available. They are fresh, never-frozen meals that are put in the fridge and can be heated in the microwave. JABA covers the cost of these meals for need-based and income-eligible clients, and those who aren’t eligible pay $6.99 per meal for Mom’s Meals and $6 for Meals on Wheels.
“The clients get to choose what they want from a menu and can place their order every two weeks,” Donovan said. “They also have a nutritionist that clients can talk to over the phone if they have issues with a certain disease or picking the right meals.”
Meals on Wheels is a longtime nonprofit that has been serving hot, home-delivered meals since 1977 to the aging, the ill and those incapacitated by disability or illness. These meals are delivered to clients daily by volunteers.
Of course, Meals on Wheels is available to everyone in the Charlottesville, Albemarle, Louisa, and Fluvanna areas — not just JABA clients — based on need and income eligibility. You can find out more by calling (434) 293-4364.
“The meals arrive hot, so the client can eat them as soon as they get them,” Donovan said. “This is great for clients in rural areas who may not have a lot of contact with people or family close by.”
“I look forward to getting my meals,” says Gloria Coleman, a JABA Mom’s Meals client in Louisa County. “And I like being able to choose what I want every two weeks. This means I don’t have to worry about cooking three meals a day.”
Indeed, for many seniors like Coleman, who live alone in remote settings or who are on fixed incomes, the meal deliveries offer a sense of security and relieve stress.
These home-delivered meal programs also can help family members and caregivers. Indeed, most caregivers for seniors can tell you that shopping and preparing meals can be one of the most labor-intensive aspects of caregiving. Getting on a home-delivered meal program can be a huge stress reliever.
“If the caregiver works, it gives them peace of mind that their loved one has a healthy meal at home they can pop in the microwave,” Donovan said, “and the caregiver doesn’t need to worry about things like the stove being left on.”
This JABA service is only for people 60 or older who are unable to prepare meals safely as a result of mental, emotional or physical incapacity; have no one else in the household who could prepare meals; and have are no available resources nearby (such as family members, church members, neighbors or community groups) to provide cooking assistance.
JABA pays for clients’ Meals on Wheels food if clients meet eligibility requirements. Folks who do not meet JABA’s eligibility requirements can contact Meals on Wheels directly and inquire about sliding-scale fees.
“Improvements in nutrition and reduced feelings of isolation are seen in almost every person we serve in this program,” said Emily Daidone, JABA’s manager of senior nutrition programs. “Isolation as a result of a sudden loss of partner, health problems or financial burdens can quickly diminish an older person’s ability to stay in their home. A healthy meal, and connection to a friendly visitor, can really help.”
David McNair handles publicity, marketing, media relations and social media efforts for the Jefferson Area Board for Aging.