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March 15, 2021

Dignity and Independence with Every Delivery

By Jen Ryan Hickes

Meals on Wheels ensures that homebound older adults and people with disabilities in Missoula County benefit from a nutritious meal program that both improves their quality of life and maximizes their ability to live independently. During March for Meals, Missoula Aging Services raises both funds and awareness to support home meal delivery to our homebound neighbors, whether they reside in Missoula, Lolo, Seeley Lake, or anywhere in between.

“Those with underlying health issues that are at higher risk of contracting coronavirus have led to a greater need for Meals on Wheels during the pandemic. There has also been a similar rise in the number of clients served during this period who are under the age 60, particularly those with a disability, struggling with mental health challenges, or at higher risk for COVID-19 due to chronic health issues,” says Dean Thompson, Nutrition Program Manager at Missoula Aging Services.  

Even the most fortunate among us, as we age, may experience a decline in mobility and health which can strip us of our independence and diminish our quality of life. Advances in medicine have extended life expectancies to record highs. One-quarter of today’s 65-year-olds will live beyond the age of 90. Without support from programs like Meals on Wheels, more of our older neighbors would be forced to trade their homes for nursing facilities.

Along with the inevitable impacts of aging come the increased risks of medical emergencies, falls, and other accidents.

Dean described a time when the friendly check-in that comes with each Meals on Wheels delivery became particularly important: “A client fell in her home and was able to yell to get the volunteer driver’s attention when he knocked to deliver her meal. He called 911 at her request and waited with her until paramedics arrived to attend to her and take her to the hospital.”  

The safety check that accompanies each meal delivery ensures that, in the case of an emergency, medics will be called, families will be notified and our neighbors will not be forgotten. When you support Meals on Wheels this March, you are truly providing much more than a meal, you are supporting a lifeline in our community for those who are homebound.

Supporting Meals on Wheels during March for Meals is especially important during the pandemic. Your recurring or one-time donation gets us that much closer to a spring where everyone in our community is safe, healthy and nourished.  

Meals are delivered safely, using precautions for the health and safety of both volunteers and clients. For many, the trusted Meals on Wheels volunteer driver who shows up every day with a meal and a warm smile is the only person they see or speak with all day. 

No one should live with food insecurity, forced to choose between medication, doctor's appointments, or food. All of these elements are necessary for anyone to live a healthy life under any circumstances. For our homebound neighbors, the decisions no one should have to make may become even harder when dealing with social isolation and loneliness during the pandemic.

Programs like Meals on Wheels help fill these gaps and bring security to people in a wide set of circumstances, including older adults and those with disabilities.

When someone lives alone and needs help getting food each day, Meals on Wheels is ready to help by bringing food and increased wellbeing to those we serve.