Our landscape is crowded with restaurants and grocery superstores and a favorite meal is just a smartphone tap away. So naturally, it can be hard to imagine that a good percentage of our society doesn’t know where its next meal will come from.
When people don’t have access to food or go hungry for reasons of poverty or other challenges, it’s called food insecurity. For the population that Lifepath serves – our community’s older adults – it’s a serious problem that can’t be simply solved with the latest smartphone app. For many of them, food insecurity is inevitably intertwined with health, mobility, and social isolation concerns.
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reported that food insecurity is most common in people between the ages of 75 and 84, women, and people without a spouse or partner. Poor health and mobility only complicate the situation. Connecting these people with community-based food resources is key to fighting food insecurity, and in many cases, social isolation. Many neighborhoods in our region have elevated levels of concern about access to food, which is amplified among older adults who often have other issues.
Lifepath’s congregate meal and Meals on Wheels programs have been nourishing the Capital Region community’s older adults since 1952: Meals on Wheels alone has served 7.5 million meals during its operation. We regularly serve about 1,000 local residents one or two meals a day, in their homes, under this program.
With the advent and popularity of home meal kits, ready-to-eat delivery plans and on-demand food services, some might say that the population Lifepath serves has plenty of other options. Looking beyond cost, nutrition and the fact that some of these individuals are not able to prepare meals, there are other critical benefits to the Meals on Wheels program: Human contact and genuine care.
The people served by Meals on Wheels genuinely look forward to the deliveries our volunteer drivers make each day. For many, it might be the only smile and bit of conversation they have during the week. Given that research shows that social isolation is very damaging to health and wellbeing particularly in our advanced years, Lifepath delivers a little dose of hope and happiness with each meal – something that a box of frozen food on the doorstep absolutely cannot do.
Do you know a friend or neighbor who might benefit from Meals on Wheels? Please contact Lifepath to find out how we can help. Call 518-465-3322 for more information.