For senior citizens, living in a nursing home or institution can be costly. But thanks to programs such as Peninsula Volunteers’ “Meals on Wheels” program, many more seniors are able to stay in their homes, and get regular deliveries of hot meals, right to their front door.
Menlo Park Mayor Richard Cline showed his support for Peninsula Volunteers and “Meals for Wheels” on Wednesday by joining the mayors of Atherton, East Palo Alto, Portola Valley, San Carlos and Woodside and the Vice-Mayor of Redwood City to deliver hot meals to several local, homebound senior citizens as part of “Mayors for Meals Day,” part of the national “March for Meals” campaign.
This is Cline’s second year as mayor, and his second year participating in “Mayors for Meals Day.”
Cline said participating in the program always touches his heart, when he sees how much the seniors need it, so badly.
“Some of these seniors are almost complete invalids, eating in a chair they can barely get out of,” Cline said. “It’s very impactful.”
When he entered homes to deliver meals last year, Cline said he could tell which seniors were suffering the worst by the condition of the inside of their homes. Some seniors who had a lot of trouble moving around would have one room they spent the most time in, and piles of possessions would be crowded around the chair or bed, to prevent them from having to try and get up as much as possible.
“And these people, you would never know, just by driving past their house,” he said. “You can’t tell by the outside of their house.”
Alicia Aguirre, vice-mayor of Redwood City, said that is one reason she enjoys participating in “Mayors for Meals Day,” and helping to deliver meals—it gives her the opportunity to meet Redwood City residents she might otherwise never meet, because they can’t make it out of their homes to city events.
“By doing this, we [the mayors] are able to meet with members of the community and residents we might never know existed,” she said. “It’s a great way to let them know leaders in their city are thinking about them and wanting to know how they are; that we’re concerned about them.”
Cline agreed, saying that the human interaction for these homebound seniors is almost as important for them as the food.
“It’s the personal touch, almost more than the meal,” he said. “I get to sit down with them, really talk to them, and see how they’re doing. It’s the human interaction that’s so important.”
Bart Charlow, executive director of Peninsula Volunteers, said the peninsula is very fortunate that its local mayors take the time to participate and recognize how important a program like “Meals on Wheels” is for local seniors.
“Senior hunger is a very serious problem in our communities—and one we can positively change,” he said.
Peninsula Volunteers and its “Meals on Wheels” program, which is run out of its offices in Little House in Menlo Park, serves homebound seniors and adults with disabilities across San Mateo County, from Belmont through East Palo Alto, and has since 1978. The service allows these people to live independently in their own environment, preventing costly and premature institutionalization.
The meals are prepared in the kitchen at Little House using only fresh, seasonal ingredients. The menus are created by Peninsula Volunteers’ own staff-registered dietitian, and supervised by a professional food service manager. The menus ensure the recipients get three daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and the delivery drivers also perform a daily check, to make sure they are alright.
Peninsula Volunteers also helps link the recipients to any other resources or support they may need.
“These volunteers are just amazing,” said Aguirre.
For more information, visit www.peninsulavolunteers.org.