The Meals on Wheels Program, delivered by the Council on Aging, has successfully provided meals to Sonoma County seniors for thirty-eight years. In fact, raising funds for and building the new Wheels on Meals kitchen was one of the most rewarding projects of my tenure at Council on Aging. Last year over 260,000 hungry seniors received sustenance and nutrition through Meals on Wheels, and that number continues to grow. Meals on Wheels provides one meal per day to seniors over 60, and for many this is the only healthful meal they eat. Without adequate nutrients, seniors are much more likely to get sick or injured. We have 22.1% of our seniors over 65 living in poverty; without this program we could not achieve our countywide goal to be the healthiest county in the state by 2020. Since there is no waiting list and no charge if seniors are unable to pay, no one is left out and fresh food is accessible for all eligible senior citizens.
Meals on Wheels was awarded grant funding with 100% to be used to purchase fruits and vegetables from local producers and farmers. The grant was matched by the Council on Aging. This investment ensures that our seniors have access to quality produce from nearby farmers, while also supporting our local economy. This year, Meals on Wheels transitioned to a zero waste kitchen, in part due to a project created by the Director of Senior Nutrition Services, Laura Colgate. Laura is raising three steers and three hogs for the Meals on Wheels Program to introduce organic, local meat into the meal plan. Produce waste from the kitchen is diverted from the landfill and used to feed the livestock. Meals on Wheels is dedicated to supporting local farms and providing quality ingredients for our senior citizens to enrich and enhance their lives.
I can’t think of a better note to end this year and this newsletter on. May 2015 bring both health and wellness to each of us and especially to our vulnerable friends, neighbors and loved ones.