Published DateCONCORD — Mayors for Meals is part of a March for Meals campaign, initiated by the Meals on Wheels Association of America to raise awareness about senior hunger. It enables mayors and local leaders to observe first-hand the positive impact this program has on homebound participants.
This year Concord Mayor Jim Bouley and Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield are on board to deliver meals. The following state and local politicians will also participate: City Councilman Bob Hamel from Laconia; State Representative Jane Cormier from Alden; Selectman Chair, Harry Wright from Bradford; Selectwoman Sandra McKinney from Allenstown; and select Board Member Linda Small from Pittsfield.
In Belknap and Merrimack counties, the Meals on Wheels Program and the 10 area Senior Centers are sponsored by the Community Action program of Belknap-Merrimack Counties, Inc. and beginning on March 20, all will join together in a national effort to celebrate and acknowledge the importance of these programs in fighting senior hunger. The Meals on Wheels program provides five hot, nutritious meals a week to participants and the community dining program provides the same to Senior Center participants. In 2012, BM-CAP served approximately 259,000 home delivered meals and 68,000 community dining meals!
The 2012 Annual Report on Senior Hunger states that 8.3 million seniors (more than one in seven) face the threat of hunger, up from 5 million (one in nine) in 2009 and represents a 78 percent increase from 2001. The majority of seniors under the threat of hunger are over the poverty line. As the aging population increases, the number of hungry seniors will also increase. According to the Federal Administration on Aging, the elderly population is expected to more than double from 40.2 million in 2010 to 88.5 million in 2050, and according to projections by the 2006 Congressional Research Report, that same population is expected to live 3-4 years longer. By 2030, one in five Americans will be over the age of 65. These numbers are stunning reminders that the fight to end senior hunger is only just beginning.
The Meals on Wheels program is much more than numbers to the participants, and their families, however. To them it provides a daily wellness check and local resource and referral information. The son-in-law of 104 year-old participant, Helena says: The program serves a great purpose; not only does it provide the meals but the MOW driver is another person she gets to see and interact with every day. The drivers are friendly and caring and they know what's going on. There is a piece of mind and safety reassurance in knowing that she will be receiving daily meals and won't be trying to use the stove. She enjoys the food, appreciates both the program and the thoughtful driver, who checks in with her daily, and double checks when storms approach to be sure she has enough food. In fact, she jokes that the daily meals provide her with so much food that she has to watch her figure!"