Tuesday, March 17, 2009

State Funding for Home Delivered Meals at Risk

The Governor's budget proposal is set to reduce funding for home delivered meals by $671,100. State funding for this program has been flat since 1998, yet the aging population during the past 10 years has grown, and continues to grow.

Proper nutrition is a major determinant of successful aging and is more important than heredity in avoiding age-related declines; 87% of older Americans have chronic conditions that can be improved with proper nutrition. Conversely, poor nutrition prolongs recovery from illness and increases the cost and incidence of institutionalization.

Programs like Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels makes a difference in the lives of almost 400 clients every year, and has delivered over 1.37 million meals since FY 2000. Every day, we're making a difference in the lives of those we serve. Consider the following:

  • Over 95% of our clients are unable to shop and cook for themselves.
  • 94% say the meals they receive are their most important source of nutritious
  • 97% say the meals they receive make it easier for them to live
    independently (remain at home).

Supporting the independence of our seniors in the community ultimately saves the State of Michigan money. Please urge your State Representative to restore funding for home delivered meals, and the remaining $1.58 million in Office of Services to the Aging funding slated for reduction, and help keep our seniors in the community.

Monday, January 26, 2009

More than just a meal

I came into work this morning and opened the following e-mail (excerpt) from an adult caregiver:

Recently I was faced with my father and I changing our caretaker roles. The other day he was found by his neighbor without heat and with very little food. I am still working through why this happened and setting up services so this will not happen again. One of the places that I went to for help was the Meals of Wheels facility up north. I will be signing him up next week to receive the meals, knowing that he will have nutritious meals and someone to stop in to say hello and "check in" on my father. Being 3 hours away from my father, this is a big relief.

Meals on Wheels programs like ours do more than just deliver a meal.

We deliver companionship. With over 60% of our clients living alone, a Meals on Wheels volunteer may be the only person a client sees all day. Many of our clients come to know and trust their volunteer. Indeed, many of our volunteers consider the clients on their route “theirs”.

We deliver a wellness or safety check. Upon returning the office, our volunteers report back any concerns they have about the clients on their route. Staff follow-up with all concerns our volunteers express. Volunteers have found clients without heat, without telephone service, on the floor - unable to get up and many more situations requiring immediate attention.

We deliver peace of mind. Many of our clients have adult children living 2-3 hours away if not further. Our meal delivery affords these adult children the peace of mind knowing their parent is receiving a delicious, nutritious meal and that someone is able to be their ‘eyes and ears’ on a regular basis.

We truly are making a difference, one meal at a time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Name, Same Purpose

I have the best job ever. Not only do I get to work with a fantastic group of employees (as a manger I couldn't ask for a better group!) but I also get to make a difference every day.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to do what our volunteers to every day: deliver meals. This is one of my favorite aspects of my job. I love seeing the smiles on our clients' faces, knowing that for many of them, I may be the only person they see all day. From receiving the many heartfelt thanks of appreciation to a big hug by one client, I couldn't help but have a smile on my face the rest of the day.

Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels recently changed its name from Motor Meals of Ann Arbor. Why the change? We want to be more accessible to the homebound community who need our delicious and nutritiously balanced meals, to volunteers who have the interest and time to deliver and to donors who have the heart and means to give.

One of the problems we had with the Motor Meals name was the constant need to explain what we did. While a great conversation starter, it did little when we didn’t have direct communication with potential customers. In talking about what we did, we often said “it’s like Meals on Wheels”.

Meals on Wheels programs throughout the U.S. and the world are as diverse as the programs where they are located. From volunteer drivers to paid drivers - from catered meals to in-house kitchens - to serving only seniors to persons of all ages and everything in between there is no one "look" of a Meals on Wheels program. The one commonality is our commitment to meeting the nutritional needs of the homebound in each of our communities.

Our new graphic identity was developed by Raquel Weber, a junior designer at the marketing firm re:group, who donated their services to create our new identity. Thank you re:group!

We remain committed to meeting the nutritional needs of the homebound in the Ann Arbor area who are unable to shop and cook for themselves. We continue to rely on our 400+ volunteers to deliver our meals and briefly socialize with our clients. As one board member commented, changing our name doesn’t erase our history, it’s just another chapter.