A wonderful nonprofit to volunteer for is Meals on Wheels America, which aims to reduce elderly isolation and hunger and supports over 5,000 community-based programs across the country.
According to their website, their vision is “an America in which all seniors live nourished lives with independence and dignity” and their mission is “to empower local community programs to improve the health and quality of life of the seniors they serve so that no one is left hungry or isolated.”
Meals on Wheels addresses an important issue in society: the increasing vulnerability of seniors. Why is this happening? The senior population is growing; the average life expectancy is 79 years in America, and about 1 in every 5 Americans in an elder. However, due to the increasingly mobility of families and the physical constraints of age, many seniors are being left at risk of hunger and isolation.
According to the Meals on Wheels website, nearly 9 million seniors are in risk of hunger today, and 1 in 5 feel lonely, which has health risks similar to smoking 15 cigarettes in a day. In addition, 6.9 million seniors live in poverty, which makes daily life extremely difficult.
Despite this growing issue, 3 out of 4 seniors in need do not receive community supports, while 83% of vulnerable seniors do not receive home-delivered meals they need.
This is where Meals on Wheels steps in. According to their FAQ section, the nonprofit “primarily provides nutritious meals, a quick safety check and much-needed human connection to homebound seniors. In some communities, additional services that keep seniors healthy and safe are also offered, like pet food delivery, senior center meal programs, home repair services and transportation. Each local program works with its own community’s needs and resources to provide a community-specific solution.”
What can you do to help? There are many ways you can help support Meals on Wheels and their mission.
Meals on Wheels, despite being the “only federally supported program designed specifically to meet the nutritional and social needs of seniors” is still significantly underfunded. Monetary donations are always welcome to help Meals on Wheels continue its services.
There are many ways you can volunteer with Meals on Wheels in your area. Volunteers typically deliver meals homebound seniors and also check in on them by having a conversation with them! Each shift is only about an hour and a half, and in that short time you are making an enormous difference in a senior’s life.
You can also volunteer in the kitchen and help prepare meals as well!
Signing up is easy, and schedules are flexible.
Volunteering is also group friendly, so if you’re in a Lion’s Heart group, try volunteering together!
Like all non-profits, they are successful with the help of selfless volunteers like you. Millions of volunteers allow 225 million meals to be delivered to 2.4 million seniors through Meals on Wheels. YOU can make a difference too.
Check out the Meals on Wheels website to learn more.
Written by Audrey Xia – Lion’s Heart Intern and Blogger Audrey is a devoted Lion’s Heart volunteer and a passionate writer. If she’s not volunteering, writing, or playing soccer, you can probably catch her rocking out to some new music or eating Asian snacks.