Meals on Wheels Delaware supports downstate seniors

January 2, 2014

The Meals on Wheels program provides essential nutrition for thousands of Sussex County’s most vulnerable citizens. Hundreds of volunteers, donors and staff of nonprofit organizations dedicate time and resources to help care for older residents in virtually every community throughout Sussex County.

Last week’s Cape Gazette article titled “Popular beach brunch does not feed Sussex seniors” ignores the life-sustaining services made possible because of support derived by Meals on Wheels Delaware. For two decades Meals on Wheels Delaware has been an important partner with CHEER and the State of Delaware in helping to combat hunger in our county’s elderly population. Thousands of Sussex County senior citizens are able to continue living in their own homes because they are receiving nutritious meals delivered by caring volunteers on a daily basis. Without this program, many frail elderly would be forced from their homes into medical facilities or nursing homes as they succumbed to the effects of malnutrition and isolation. For too many of our friends and neighbors, a visit from a volunteer delivering a daily meal may be the only human contact that senior may have during the day and that meal may be the only food that will come into the home. An entire month of those meals costs less than 1 day in a nursing home or medical facility.

Last week’s Cape Gazette article also ignores the broad range of programs and services provided by nonprofit organizations like CHEER that are essential for the well-being of thousands of Sussex County seniors and their caregivers. Continuing community support is necessary for CHEER to maintain these programs and services that enable seniors to continue living in their own homes. Funding and support for most CHEER programs is separate and independent from any fundraising efforts of Meals on Wheels Delaware.

In the last couple of years, dwindling donations forced Meals on Wheels Delaware to reduce CHEER’s funding by more than 60 percent. In the first year of that cut CHEER was able to secure an emergency appropriation from our General Assembly to help continue feeding seniors. Through the combined efforts of many dedicated hard working people, including our elected officials, the State of Delaware increased funding for the Meals on Wheels program by $750,000 this year. This was the first meaningful increase in state funding for the Meals on Wheels program in many years. This year, because of the increase in state funding, Meals on Wheels Delaware is again able to consider some equipment replacement costs for organizations such as CHEER that continue to depend on equipment that has been used beyond its planned service life. CHEER has a request for capital equipment pending for consideration by Meals on Wheels Delaware. It is that combined effort that has helped to produce and deliver over 153,000 homebound meals in Sussex County last year alone. It is that combined effort that is helping someone’s mother, father, grandparent, sister or brother every day to continue living in their own home. It is my hope that that combined effort will continue to be there as each of us continues our journey through life.

Arlene S. Littleton
executive director
CHEER Community Center

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