Food insecurity is an unfortunately common problem among seniors. As people get older, they face new issues brought on by chronic illness and limited mobility. Many seniors cannot work and must rely on relatives or social security for money. Add in that many of them have one or more chronic illnesses and must factor in doctor visits and medication into their finances. And many of them are unable to drive and have trouble getting to a grocery store to buy the ingredients for nutritious and well-balanced meals. When finances are tight, and mobility is limited, options for food also become limited.
But here at Meals on Wheel of Contra Costa, we are dedicated to making sure every senior that needs help gets it. Our program provides a meal delivery service for seniors because we believe that no senior should suffer from food insecurity. Let’s take a look at what food insecurity is, what some of the consequences are, and what Meals on Wheels are doing to help.
What Is Food Insecurity?
“Food is national security. Food is economy. It is employment, energy, and history. Food is everything.” – Jose Andres
Food insecurity is when a person does not consistently access sufficient amounts of healthy food. As we talked about before, this can be caused by several different factors. Often seniors who cannot drive are forced to walk to the nearest store for food, which is usually a gas station or mini market, which are more expensive and have few healthy choices. They may also not have the money to buy healthy food and rely on cheaper processed food for meals.
In 2017 5.5 million people aged 60 and older experienced food insecurity, and the number has only worsened since the pandemic.
Seniors who are experiencing food insecurity cannot get enough food to lead a healthy lifestyle. The USDA defines two types of food insecurity.
Low food security: This refers to people who are getting enough food to eat for every meal, but their diet lacks variety and quality. They may rely on processed food rather than fresh and nutritious food, so their overall diet suffers. They usually repeatedly eat the same processed meals because they are inexpensive and readily available.
Very low food security: This refers to a person who is not eating enough food at meals. They may skip meals or eat smaller portions than they need to save money and food.
Both of these scenarios have very serious long-term consequences.
The Consequences of Food Insecurity
“Investing in programs that help feed children, seniors, and families at risk of hunger and poor nutrition is not the right thing to do; it makes fiscal sense.” – Feeding America
There are many long-term physical and mental consequences of food insecurity. Not getting enough food or nutrients on a regular basis can increase a person’s risk of nutritional deficiencies, diabetes, depression, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and many other conditions. A senior’s chronic illness can be made worse by a lack of consistent food or nutrients. An unhealthy diet is also associated with a lower cognitive function and an increased risk of falls, which can quickly lead to broken bones.
A senior who is worried about being able to afford food may also skip or altogether forgo their medication to save money. This is especially problematic because seniors with one or more chronic health conditions are more likely to experience food insecurity and can ultimately make their situation and health worse by skipping medication in order to buy food.
Meal Delivery Service For Seniors
The Contra Costa county senior nutrition program is working hard to address these issues in our own community. We want to ensure that every senior in our neighborhood has access to meals that will allow them to eat as much as they need to and fulfill all their nutritional needs. We provide this service at a low cost or free of charge, so seniors do not have to worry about money.
These low-income meals are provided through our meal delivery program. Our senior meal delivery program offers meals between once a week and every day depending on the situation and covid restrictions. These meals are designed by dietitians and will cover all dietary needs while providing a variety of different foods.
How to Get Meals on Wheels
So you may wonder: how do you qualify for the meals on wheels program? Getting set up is easy. Just give us a call, answer a couple of questions about your situation, and we’ll get you connected with the right person. People who qualify for the program are usually 60 or older, homebound, and in great need because of disability, disease, or isolation.
Give us a call today and start eating better with Meals on Wheels.