As pandemic relief funding runs out and more older adults shelter at home during what amounts to a second wave of COVID-19 infections, the winter approaches with a greater need for food delivery services. Many non-profits like Meals on Wheels are stretched thin with demand up from last year at this time along with a decrease in volunteers, many of whom are seniors themselves and are more vulnerable to serious complications from the virus.
Food scarcity is an ongoing problem for homebound seniors, especially in the winter months, and food banks, places of worship, and other community organizations are struggling to meet the demand for food and home delivery of meals and other essentials. According to a recent report by the Association of American Medical Colleges, 54 million people in America face food insecurity during the pandemic. People with chronic diseases like diabetes who lack access to nutritious food can experience worsening health problems and are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 complications.
Access to nutritious, healthy food is a cornerstone of good health and an active lifestyle. A poor diet among older adults is associated with some of the most deadly and costly diseases including hypertension, diabetes, some cancers, and stroke. In a recent study, older adults who received home-delivered meals after being discharged from the hospital had lower rates of hospital readmission than anticipated.
Seniors, especially women, who are disabled or care for their grandchildren are most likely to be food insecure, according to Feeding America. With so many grandparents helping to look after school-aged children who are at home during pandemic doing their classes virtually, community collaborations with school districts, food growers, and other community organizations are more important than ever.
Seniors who need meals delivered should contact their local agency on aging for information on programs, eligibility, and requirements. Older adults who do not have internet access or need additional assistance can call 211 for help.