Meals keep seniors in their homes

Meals keep seniors in their homes

Without the food she receives from Meals on Wheels, Barbara Makris said, she would not be able to stay in her home.

The Champion rode with Meals on Wheels volunteer Bill Thigpen on March 18 as he delivered meals to several clients, including Makris, who receives six meals a week.

“I don’t know what we’d do if it weren’t for Meals on Wheels,” said Makris, who has been getting the meals delivered to her home for a decade. “Assisted living [facilities] would be full.”

“It’s just a wonderful thing that they’re doing for us senior citizens,” Makris said. “It’s good for us that they come because [we] look forward to them coming. It’s somebody checking on you, too.”

Retired attorney Bill Thigpen has been volunteering with Meals on Wheels for two years. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Retired attorney Bill Thigpen has been volunteering with Meals on Wheels for two years. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

This month Senior Connections, which provides programs and services designed to help seniors age in place in their own homes, is spotlighting its participation in the 14th annual March for Meals–a month-long, nationwide celebration of Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wheels America is an organization that supports community-based senior nutrition programs dedicated to addressing senior hunger and isolation. 

“Throughout the country we promote March for Meals trying really to advocate during the month of March to get mainly elected, but other people who are high profile, to deliver meals so they can really see what it’s all about,” said Debra Furtado, chief executive officer of Senior Connections.

“We get elected officials to deliver and their eyes are truly opened to what we do and need,” Furtado said.

Funded from various sources, Senior Connections, which is just one Meals on Wheels provider of many in Georgia, serves the metro Atlanta area.

Barbara Makris has been getting meals delivered to her home for a decade.

Barbara Makris has been getting meals delivered to her home for a decade.

“Our mission is to ensure that people are able to live independently as they age,” Furtado said. “Food is obviously a major part of that. Food is a basic need.

“In our state of Georgia, one in eight seniors…goes hungry [each] day,” she said. “We have people in our state going hungry every day who should not be going hungry.”

Senior Connections produces 3,000 meals daily. Approximately 300 meals are delivered daily in DeKalb, Furtado said. The remainder of the meals is sold to other counties and providers who deliver the meals themselves.

Furtado said the meals provided by Meals on Wheels saves the state of Georgia money. 

“For someone to live and age in their own home, the cost to the state of Georgia…is about $20,000 a year for meals and in-home care,” Furtado said. A local nursing home could cost $70,000 a year. 

“So that’s a $50,000 savings a year to our government for people to receive …[this] basic need,” Furtado said.

Thigpen, a retired attorney who volunteers with the Meals on Wheels program, said the program fits his philosophy of aging in place.

“My mother was 96 when she passed and she was in an assisted living facility,” Thigpen said. “She wanted so badly to stay in her house and she couldn’t—her health just deteriorated.”

Thigpen said the Meals on Wheels program allows people to “stay in their house with a little bit of help.”

“It just fit what I saw because I hated to put my mother in an assisted living facility, but it was the only option for her,” said Thigpen, who spends three hours on Mondays working in the kitchen and delivers meals every other week for a couple of hours.

 “Most of these people want to just stay in their homes and I just think that’s so important. Honestly when my mother went into an assisted living facility you could just see her health go down.” 

Henry Friedman, a Holocaust survivor, said he has been receiving the meals for two years.

“I’m sure I would not starve, but it makes it easy us, especially me being in a wheelchair,” Friedman said about receiving the meals.

Everado Carbonell has been receiving meals from the organization for three years.

“It feeds us,” said Carbonell, who found out about the program from a social worker. “We need help because our economy is not great. No Donald Trump lives in these apartments.”

Carbonell said the program is “a good help for seniors.”

“When you are old you need all the help you can get,” he said.


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  1. K Winston says:

    For the senior who may be limited in their ability to get out and around in the community, the person who delivers Meals on Wheels provides an important social contact. Even through that interaction is brief, it can be uplifting and something for the homebound to look forward to experiencing.

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