St. Vincent ‘March for Meals’ promotes friendship with sustenance

| March 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

ISA, center, gets daily visits from volunteer Lupe (left) and driver Maggie (right).

St. Vincent Meals on Wheels (SVMOW), 2303 Miramar St., which has been called the country’s largest (approximately 2,000 daily clients) privately funded senior nutrition program, observes “March for Meals” this month with other MOW programs across the country. The month-long celebration encourages people to participate by hosting a fundraising event, volunteering to deliver or serve meals for the month and speaking out about MOW programs on social media.

Isolation and loneliness vs. good meals and cheer

Veronica Dover, executive director at SVMOW, wants to remind people that in addition to nutritious meals, safety checks and friendly home visits to seniors who might be lonely or isolated is another benefit of the programs.

According to a survey by an American Association of Retired Persons-sponsored poll on healthy aging, one in three older adults says he or she lacks regular companionship, and one in four says he or she feels isolated from other people at least some of the time.

Another part of the survey on aging found that people who identified as lonely had an increased number of physician visits. While meals from the program are medically tailored to clients’ needs — such as heart healthy, diabetic, renal or low sodium — as well as targeted to holidays and special occasions, those meals supply only part of the picture.

According to Dover, “when asked, many seniors state that if they had to choose, they would take the daily visit over the meal.”

CLIENT EDDIE receives daily meals with a side of friendly companionship from volunteer Marie.

SVMOW volunteers and staff who work as “runners” to deliver meals also are performing a de facto wellness check on seniors. Typically, the program has the same runners deliver to the same clients each day. This consistency allows for companionship to build during visits. The runner is familiar with the senior’s basic details such as family life or routine.

It also means that the runners are the first ones to notice changes in a client’s health. The runners are a line of defense for the clients and can alert a doctor or social worker to get a senior the needed intervention.

Good cheer

Dover said that recently a client called to thank the staff and let the organization know how grateful she was for her runner and driver, because they stopped each day to speak with her. She emphasized how much it meant to her now that she has no one anymore.

A hot, nutritious meal combined with consistent, caring human interaction goes a long way to offsetting the isolation experienced by many seniors living alone and homebound.

And with an aging population here and nationwide, the need within every community will only grow. This month, reach out to someone you know who might need a hot meal and a caring friend.

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Category: People

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