Photos and story by Lucy Wheeler
San Diego County CA— Meals on Wheels recently made the national news when the National GOP Budget Proposal proposed a cutback in funding on a national level. It was a small cutback in proportion to other federally funded proposed cuts; however there is more to the story.
Our population is aging. More and more of us are living longer and the workload which Meals on Wheels provides continues to increase. This requires more volunteers, more volumes of meals needed to accommodate this increase and, with these increases, the cost is parallel to them. The workload on the few paid employees escalates while Meals on Wheels continues to be in the top ten charitable organizations where the highest percent of contributions goes directly to the serviced persons – not to administrative costs.
Currently the North County Meals on Wheels organization delivers an average of 450 meals per day while the number of paid employees remains the same. The good news, however, is the volunteers and the community support.
In March of each year, the support of our political leaders is recognized when the Champion for Meals (formerly the Mayors for Meals) join the volunteers for the hands-on delivery of meals to seniors. Mayors, Vice Mayors, Council Members, and often, County Supervisors and Assembly Members take a day from their busy schedules to assist and observe the needs which this organization provides to our aging population.
The mission of Meals on Wheels is “to support the independence and well-being of our seniors”. And they do more than that. They recognize birthdays, 100th birthdays, update material regarding emergency preparedness, home safety ideas, health resources updates and information, honor veterans and most of all, check on the well-being of those receiving meals. They even deliver “animeals” for those with pets.
There are 19 cities and communities in North County with seven drop-off sites for the approximately 425 clients served daily.
In April all volunteers will be honored at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Day with bouquets of flowers, delicious food and door prizes, all of which are donated by local vendors and businesses.