POMEROY — Once a year, the Meigs County Council on Aging celebrates the Meals on Wheels program with a “March for Meals” campaign. It helps raise awareness to the importance of the service and to provide the supplemental funding which makes it possible.
In a county where statistics show that the elderly population is nearing 19 percent, with many physically handicapped and falling into the food insufficiency group, having meals delivered makes the difference between being able to stay in their own homes or having to reside somewhere else.
A new study released by the National Foundation to End Senior Hunger shows a correlation between not having enough food and/or not eating nutritionally sound food results in negative health consequences.
Beth Shaver, executive director of the Meigs County Council on Aging, said findings of the study show that older adults who are not eating properly are at a higher risk of developing health problems as they age. It also shows that some of those conditions can be prevented or improved through a better diet.
“That is the primary role of Meals on Wheels,” Shaver said. ” Our meals are formulated to meet one-third of the recommended daily allowance for adults and have a goal of assisting people maintain a level of functioning that allows them to remain in their own home for as long as possible.”
A secondary benefit of Meals on Wheels, she added, is the personal contact with the driver who delivers the meals.
“Our drivers often do more than drop off a meal. For some consumers they bring in the mail or they help open and set up the meal. Just having a familiar, friendly face stopping by makes a big difference.”
She emphasized that Meals on Wheels is an expensive service to provide and that it is only through many “partners” that it’s possible. Food, packaging, gasoline and vehicles are the biggest expenses. The county commissioners help with the purchase of HotShot trucks, and local businesses, organizations, and individuals support the service with their contributions.
According to Shaver, less than 20 percent of the cost of the home-delivered meals is paid through the federal and state government. The remaining 80 percent comes through local funding with the senior citizens levy providing the majority of the money.
But as the director emphasized, “What we do would be impossible without the support of the community.”
Each year the agency conducts a month-long “March for Meals” campaign culminating with a spaghetti dinner and a cake contest. This year’s event will be March 27. Cakes may be brought in any time that day, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. A dinner s served from 5:30 to 6:30 and the public is encouraged to support the home-delivered program.
The cakes are judged, the winners announced, and the cake auction begins about 6:30 p.m. The categories for judging are chocolate, white and yellow, decorated, fruit and/or veggie, with a new one for cupcakes. First- and second-place trophies will be awarded in each category, and a grand and reserve grand champion will be selected from winners in each category. The grand champion will receive a cash prize of $50 and the reserve grand champion $25. There is no limit on how many entries each person can make.
Currently, about 100 home-bound seniors receive home-delivered meals through the agency, a service Shaver says, “would not be possible without the abundance of support received from the community.”