By Mark Richardson, Public Information Service – AZ – Producer, Contact
April 15, 2021
PRESCOTT, Ariz. – Meal packages for older adults typically are underfunded in one of the best of occasions, however when the pandemic hit Arizona and different states, the demand for diet help grew quickly, stretching many social-service teams’ budgets to the breaking level. However which may be altering, since Congress handed the American Rescue Plan, which features a $175 million infusion for senior-nutrition packages.
For a lot of, mentioned Bert Ijams, govt director of Meals on Wheels Prescott/Prescott Valley, leaving dwelling through the pandemic means risking their lives.
“When the pandemic hit, these individuals who have been homebound, definitely their wants have been magnified,” she mentioned. “However loads of different folks have been and are afraid to exit, to go to the grocery retailer. An increasing number of folks wished to remain dwelling, simply to guard themselves and their household.”
Ijams mentioned her group stopped its day by day meals and wellness checks in Prescott and the Prescott Valley. As an alternative, they delivered 5 meals someday per week, with day by day cellphone check-ins. She mentioned extra funding will permit a return to day by day meals with in-person visits and the flexibility to serve extra folks.
Ijams mentioned her company is funded by a mixture of public funds, grants and personal donations. She added that whereas they by no means flip anybody away, the demand for meal service is rising at an ever-increasing tempo.
“Over the past 17 months, our variety of meals supplied has elevated by 21%,” she mentioned. “That is vital; virtually a quarter-percent extra. I do not suppose that that pattern goes to subside.”
Cash from the federal program shall be apportioned to states, which is able to distribute these funds by means of companies such because the Northern Arizona Council of Governments. Ijams mentioned it is a false impression that Meals for Wheel solely serves low-income households.
“Are you able to entry meals, are you able to put together meals or do you’ve gotten a cognitive or bodily incapacity that makes it unsafe or painful so that you can have meals? Many older adults not drive, so it is tough for them to entry meals,” she mentioned. “These are our two standards. Poverty will not be one in all them.”
Dozens of companies like Meals on Wheels present lots of of hundreds of congregate and home-delivered meals to Arizonans every week.