St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley joined other volunteers from across the county in the March for Meals Community Champions Week on Thursday, March 20. The annual event is sponsored by the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging (MEAAA) to raise awareness and support for its Meals on Wheels program.
Mr. Dooley joined long-time MEAAA volunteer Dan Cummison in delivering hot, nutritious meals to 10 Shrewsbury residents, most in their 70s and 80s and all of who are homebound and rely on these meals each day. They are some of the nearly 2,500 homebound seniors served by MEAAA’s Meals on Wheels program each week.
According to Mid-East Area Agency on Aging Executive Director Mary Schaefer: “March for Meals is a national campaign during the month of March, initiated by the Meals On Wheels Association of America. It seeks to raise awareness of senior hunger, recruit new volunteers from the community and increase fundraising from local businesses and supporters. “
(MEAAA) operates the region’s largest Meals on Wheels program. Meals are provided on a short or long term basis to homebound seniors 60 years or older who are unable to prepare a nutritionally balanced noon meal for themselves and are unable to attend congregate meal sites at the MEAAA Senior Centers. Meals are delivered by volunteers and provide at least one-third of an adult's daily nutritional requirement. The cost is supported by donations from area foundations, corporations and individuals. MEAAA estimates the cost of one meal at $3; a donation of $100 will feed one senior for an entire month; $1,000 will fund meals for 10 seniors for one month. Requests for Meals on Wheels services may come from seniors, community agencies such as social services, hospital, doctors, or family members. There are no financial eligibility requirements to be enrolled in the program.
Community Champions is a week-long event designed to encourage local elected officials, business leaders and others to participate in the campaign by making a donation or helping to deliver meals to homebound senior clients. A number of municipal mayors and other elected officials are among those participating.
Across America, an estimated one of every six seniors in America (8.8 million) face the threat of hunger. In MEAAA’s four-county service area, as many as 64,000 seniors (15 percent of the 384,000 adults age 60 and older) experience the threat of hunger each week.
MEAAA is committed to ending senior hunger in our community and to reducing the isolation experienced by so many older adults. Often the MEAAA volunteer may be the only person the senior sees all day, providing human contact and a safety net, particularly for those who live alone. MEAAA Meals On Wheels is more than a just a hot lunch. The volunteers who deliver the meals provide a daily contact and “well-being” check for seniors who are alone during the day.