SUMMIT, NJ – This year during the Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA)’s “March for Meals” annual campaign, SAGE Eldercare is encouraging local elected officials, police and fire chiefs, as well as other administrators, to spend an hour and a half of their time to deliver meals to local seniors. Additionally, anyone can take the pledge to help end senior hunger by 2020 by registering online at www.mowaa.org/takethepledge (SAGE Eldercare should be designated as the local program).
According to Marianne Kranz, SAGE Eldercare’s Director of Meals on Wheels, “We currently have local officials from Chatham, Millburn, New Providence and Summit and a Union County Freeholder committed to deliver meals to our clients in March. It is vital that they get a sense of homebound seniors who are often “hidden” from the community. SAGE volunteers are often the only people checking in on these individuals and without the support of local governments and officials we wouldn’t be able to do our job.”
Kranz emphasizes that for many homebound seniors, the friendly visit from a Meals On Wheels (MOW) volunteer may be the only contact they have with someone that day. About fifteen times a year, SAGE has to turn to the police to do welfare checks on clients who don’t respond, and about five times a year, SAGE MOW volunteer calls 911 when finding a client in need of immediate professional and/or medical assistance.
This year, March For Meals also celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the inclusion of Senior Nutrition Programs in the Older American’s Act (OAA). In March of 1972, President Nixon signed into law a new Title of the Act that laid the groundwork for more than 5,000 Senior Nutrition Programs. The OAA is the primary piece of federal legislation that authorizes and supports vital nutrition services, both congregate and Meals On Wheels, to Americans age 60 and older.
SAGE’s Meals on Wheels, established in 1966, is the oldest MOW program in New Jersey. In 2011, approximately 500 volunteers delivered 42,593 meals to 268 people in Union County (Berkeley Heights, Mountainside, New Providence, Springfield and Summit), Essex County (Millburn and Short Hills) and Morris County (Chatham Borough and Township). Each weekday, 20-30 volunteers were assigned 14 routes and drove a total of about 200 miles to deliver about 170 meals to 130 clients in the three counties.