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March 11, 2022

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 improves their quality of life and maximizes their ability to live independently. During March for Meals, Missoula Aging Services raises funds and awareness to support home meal delivery to our homebound neighbors, whether they reside in Missoula, Lolo, Seeley Lake, or anywhere in between.

“Missoula Aging Services brings the community together to highlight the importance of Meals on Wheels for our older neighbors each March. This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of March for Meals,” says Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services. “If it weren’t for the generous support from the community, we wouldn’t be able to keep pace with the increased need. On this special anniversary of March for Meals, we are asking for your help to make sure our homebound older neighbors stay safe and nourished.”

"We have experienced an unprecedented 66% increase in demand for Meals on Wheels since the start of the pandemic in Missoula County,” says Susan Kohler, CEO of 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.

MAS Nutrition Program Coordinator Dean Thompson 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.

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 have 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.  If you or someone you care about could benefit from Meals on Wheels, please call (406) 728-7682.