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Peninsula Mayors Deliver Meals to Local Seniors

Elected officials are aiming to call attention to the growing problems of hunger and 'premature institutionalization' among homebound seniors.

 

Mayors from five mid-Peninsula cities quite literally "delivered the goods" to some of their most vulnerable constituents on Wednesday as part of an effort to raise awareness for south San Mateo County’s Meals on Wheels program.

Mayors Elizabeth Lewis of Atherton, Peter Ohtaki of Menlo Park, John Richards of Portola Valley, Anne Kasten of Woodside and Redwood City Councilwoman Barbara Pierce accompanied drivers from Peninsula Volunteers Inc. (PVI) who organize and run the service, delivering hot meals each day to seniors unable to cook for themselves.

“We are excited to have the mayors whose cities we serve get hands-on experience with this most vital human service,” said PVI’s Executive Director Bart Charlow. “There is no need more basic than food, and about 12,000 seniors in San Mateo County alone…face the threat of hunger.”

The event Wednesday was also held as part of the national March for Meals campaign which is working to garner more attention for senior hunger issues and encouraging localized community action to address it.

Marilyn Baker-Venturini heads up PVI’s Meals on Wheels program. She said that, Meals on Wheels volunteers can often become lifelines to the outside world for seniors, providing them with the only human interaction they may receive on a given day, and even helping to coordinate additional services when necessary.

“We provide comfort to each and every one of our clients. Every driver that knocks on that door provides comfort,” she said.

PVI provides 130,000 meals to seniors in need every year. Half of those are distributed directly to homes through its Meals on Wheels initiative, and all are hand-delivered by PVI volunteers.

Before heading out to make the rounds for the day, Woodside’s mayor, Anne Kasten, thanked the individuals who give so much of their time to assist seniors in need, and often with little recognition.

“I really thank all of you who are here, year after year, not being acknowledged in the public every morning, but by those faces [of whom you serve].”

Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki said he was grateful for the program as well, and honed in on the importance of allowing seniors to remain in their own homes and neighborhoods, preventing premature institutionalization.

“By providing meals, and also that daily contact, that social interaction, it allows seniors to live their final years in dignity and with a sense of independence,” Ohtaki said.

In San Mateo County, most homebound seniors 60 years of age and older who need help with shopping for groceries or preparing food are eligible for Meals on Wheels assistance.

What do you think of this program? Do know someone it has benefited? Tell us in the comments.


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