Meals on Wheels program turns 40

| 28 Mar 2012 | 03:11

    SUSSEX COUNTY — The Meals on Wheels program celebrated 40 years on Thursday, March 22. In 1972 President Richard Nixon signed into law a measure that established a national nutrition program for seniors 60 years and older. Meals On Wheels Association of America established the National March For Meals Campaign in March 2002 to recognize this this piece of history and the importance of Older Americans Act Senior Nutrition Programs and to raise awareness about senior hunger in America. The first Meals On Wheels was delivered in canteens to British servicemen during World War II and formally started in the United States in Philadelphia serving shut-ins in the 1950s. Today there is a vast network of local home-delivered and congregate meal programs that serve millions of seniors and others across the country. There are some 5,000 local Senior Nutrition Programs in the United States. These programs provide over one million meals to seniors each day. Some programs serve meals at congregate locations like senior centers, while some programs, like Sussex County Meals On Wheels, deliver meals directly to the homes of seniors whose mobility is limited. It takes a virtually army of volunteers who work for these programs. It is estimated that between 800,000 and 1.7 million individuals volunteer for the nutrition programs, is the largest volunteer army in the nation. Senior hunger Today, there are nearly 6 million seniors in the United States facing the threat of hunger.March For Meals is an annual national campaign to raise awareness and to encourage action on a local level. Senior Nutrition Programs across the United States promote March For Meals in their local communities through public events, partnerships with local businesses, volunteer recruitment and fundraising initiatives. Mayors For Meals is a component of March For Meals that utilizes the involvement of local mayors. Mayors and other local officials and community leaders delivered meals Wednesday, March 21 to show their support of our local Sussex County nutrition programs. An integral part of this initiative includes the pledge to end senior hunger in America by 2020. Local Senior Nutrition Programs encourage as many people as possible during their March for Meals events to sign the pledge and take action against senior hunger. The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders issued a proclamation for the month of March as March for Meals Month. They encouraged all local public officials and community leaders to volunteer to deliver meals March 21 to homebound seniors. Sussex County Nutrition Programs through Catholic Family and Community Services provided over 20,000 meals to local home-bound and served over 22,000 meals at the Sussex County congregate nutrition sites. In addition they provided blizzard bags, delivered bags of groceries, provided Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, provided smoke detectors, Christmas presents and pet food donations to people in need. Catholic Family and Community Services’ volunteers provided 7,800 hours of community service last year.