Eighty food-insecure seniors requesting aid from Yolo County Meals on Wheels

Eighty food-insecure seniors requesting aid from Yolo County Meals on Wheels

Photo Credits: TESSA KOGA / AGGIE

Decline in funding for Meals on Wheels contributes to lengthy waitlist

Meals on Wheels is a nonprofit organization dedicated to delivering daily hot meals to food-insecure senior citizens. The program is partially funded by federal community development block grants, which have diminished by over $1 billion since 2001. This decline has contributed to a lengthy waitlist for the Meals on Wheels service in Yolo County. 

The Yolo County Meals on Wheels website describes its mission: “To nourish and enrich the lives of individuals in Yolo County with emphasis on those age 60 and older, by providing nutritious meals to active and home bound people; thereby, promoting their health, well-being and independence.”

Lisa DeAmicis, Program Coordinator of the Davis Senior Center, explained how the program improves the quality of life for food-insecure seniors. 

“It’s a nutritious meal that is planned by a dietician,” DeAmicis said. “Secondarily, it is a wonderful social outlet for people who are often on their own in their homes and may not have much contact with other people during the day.”

DeAmicis summarized the importance of Meals on Wheels’ role in Davis’ elderly community. 

“The Meals on Wheels program is a critical component of the services that are provided at the Davis Senior Center,” DeAmicis said.

The organization prepares 350 to 400 fresh meals daily from Monday to Friday, according to the Yolo County website. The food is then delivered to private residences and senior centers in Woodland, West Sacramento, Winters and Davis. 

Executive Director of Yolo County Meals on Wheels Christie Skibbins commented on the decrease in funding for the program. 

“There used to be a lot more government grant money and now there’s less available, but because all of the baby boomers are turning 60 years old, there are more people who need our services, and we’re able to serve less of them,” Skibbins said. 

To qualify for home-delivered meals, seniors must be over 60 years of age and be homebound, have a physical or mental disability or have trouble cooking. The only criteria for the community meals at various Senior Centers, however, is to be over 60 years old. Both programs are completely free for seniors, but there is a suggested donation of $4. 

The program’s Yolo County website lists its sources of income, which are primarily from fundraising, in addition to state and federal grants. Some of the federal funding takes the form of community development block grants, which have been declining steadily since 1980. 

Funding is used to cover all of Meals on Wheels’ expenses, including food, trays and employee payroll. 

There are roughly 80 food-insecure seniors on the waitlist for Meals on Wheels in Yolo County, according to Skibbins. She explained the limiting factors on the program’s capacity. 

“It’s the amount of money it takes to deliver the food and the amount of volunteers it takes to deliver the food,” Skibbins said. 

Despite this need, funding will continue to be cut in 2020. Meals on Wheels America released a statement regarding the federal budget for 2020.

“The proposed budget as presented would eliminate, or significantly cut, a number of critical funding sources that support the nationwide network of Meals on Wheels programs,” the website read. “Such cuts would put millions of vulnerable seniors in harm’s way.”

Currently, Yolo County Meals on Wheels is looking for student volunteers interested in helping in the Davis Senior Center Kitchen or in food distribution. Any interested students should contact Meals on Wheels Yolo County at volunteer@mowyolo.org or call (530) 662-7035.

Written by: Eden Winniford –– city@theaggie.org