When the holiday season rolls around, everyone starts looking for ways to give back. So many people need a little extra help, and the holidays remind us that a little help can make all the difference in another person’s life. A few dollars can mean the difference between hunger and a meal, and it feels good to be able to donate time or money to make someone’s holiday better. But sometimes, it’s hard to know where to start.
Luckily, there are so many opportunities to help those in need. These organizations ensure that your money and efforts go to the right people. When looking into organizations to donate to or volunteer with, consider Meals on Wheels.
What is Meals on Wheels?
Meals on Wheels is an organization that delivers nutritious meals to homebound seniors. Often, these seniors cannot easily leave the house to buy groceries, cannot afford nutritious food, or cannot prepare meals for themselves. Meals on Wheels is primarily concerned with senior well-being and the idea that everyone deserves healthy meals and no one deserves to go hungry.
While Meals on Wheels receives federal funding, it’s not enough to help all of the seniors in need. That’s where people like you come in. With the help of people making donations or volunteering their time, Meals on Wheels works to reach every senior they can.
The Power of a Meal
Meals on Wheels usually delivers daily or weekly meals, depending on the location. But this is more than just a meal. There are so many powerful ways that each meal can create real change in the lives of recipients.
Fighting Food Insecurity
Food insecurity is an unfortunately common problem for seniors. Many factors make it difficult for many seniors to get nutritious or consistent meals. A senior experiencing food insecurity may live off unhealthy packaged food or fast food. With very low food insecurity, they might not even be getting enough food to meet their nutritional needs. Skipping meals is common when food is not available or there is no money to buy groceries.
No matter the reason or the severity, having meals delivered to their doorstep is an incredible gift for these seniors. A meal delivery program ensures that each recipient has a consistent source of nutritious food so they don’t have to rely on poor-quality food or skip meals.
Meeting the Changing Needs of Seniors
As we age, our nutritional needs change. The meals delivered in this program are designed to meet those needs. Each meal provides the recommended amounts of minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. There are also specific targets for the amount of fats, sodium, and fiber in each meal. These guidelines and meals are designed with the help of dietitians.
Every meal includes a protein, vegetables, fruits, a bread or grain, low-fat milk or an alternative, and a dessert. As the season changes and different food becomes available, the menu changes as well. That way, seniors can experience variety and try new foods. It also keeps the meals from becoming boring over time.
Isolation is common among homebound seniors. They often have trouble leaving their house and can easily get cut off from friends and family. This is especially problematic during the holidays because the message being blasted everywhere is that you should spend your holidays with loved ones. Isolation can already lead to problems like depression or other serious medical conditions, but this can be even worse at the end of the year when people feel more isolated than ever.
Each food delivery includes a quick check-in, where the volunteer driver will spend a few minutes talking with each recipient on their route. For many seniors, this may be the only social interaction they get in a day, so they look forward to it each and every day. The volunteer drivers often form friendships with those on their route and stay in touch even after they leave the program, or the recipient gets moved into a group home.
The check-ins also serve another purpose: to ensure the safety of the recipients. Check-ins aren’t just social calls. They are also a chance for the volunteer driver to ensure everything is okay in the recipient’s home. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when a senior lives alone. Falls are common among seniors and can result in hospitalization. Knowing someone is coming to check in daily makes many seniors feel much safer in their homes, allowing them to stay in their own homes longer.
Now that you understand what Meals on Wheels does and why it’s so important let’s look at the ways that you can help.
It’s essential to understand your options and consider what you can afford. Take a look at your finances and decide what you can give. And remember: any amount that you donate goes directly to helping seniors, so don’t feel bad if you can’t give a lot or can only give once. Every little bit helps. The money you donate puts food directly on the tables of seniors in your community.
If you want to donate, there are many options available to you. You can donate online or by mail and set up a recurring donation if you want. That way, you’ll know that you’re helping those in need each month.
Check out the donation page to see other ways you can donate, including planned giving, donating a vehicle, and corporate sponsorships.
And if you can’t donate but still want to help, consider volunteering. The positions available will always depend on the location and the needs at the time, but your help will always be appreciated! A popular volunteer position is delivering the meals. The volunteer drivers are the eyes and ears of the organization since they are the ones who see the recipients most often and keep an eye out for any problems.
But if that’s not for you, don’t worry. There is always plenty to do in a nonprofit. For example, there is always a need for people to help stuff envelopes. While that’s not a glamorous task, it is crucial. At any time, hundreds of letters may need to go out, including donation mailers and thank you letters. And that’s a flexible task that can be done while you’re watching TV, chatting, or doing other work.
Giving Back for the Holidays
There are so many ways to support Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa and so many great reasons to start now. Meals on Wheels supports seniors through their meal delivery program to ensure they have healthy, daily meals. They also provide a vital support system to help seniors stay in their homes longer.
If you’re interested, there are many ways to help. Donations can be as much or as little as you can give. And the volunteer opportunities vary by location, but there is always a need for more help. The number of seniors who need extra support is growing yearly, and Meals on Wheels needs your help to keep up with the demand.
Call today or check out the website to see what giving options are right for you this holiday season.