After a lifetime of hard work, often for reasons beyond their control, many older adults in Central Oregon are forced to choose between healthcare and hunger. 

Many are struggling with food insecurity for various reasons, including limited finances and resources, the cost of healthy foods, competing priorities such as medication, functional limitations, and stress. Some are living with long-term disabilities. Others have no family or friends that can offer assistance.

It’s hard to believe, even unimaginable, that we have seniors hard-pressed to get enough food to eat. Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem is even worse. According to the Feeding America website, “Before the pandemic, 5.5 million or about 8% of senior households were food insecure with limited or uncertain access to enough food.”

$100 provides 3 weeks of meals for an older adult.

More Central Oregon seniors than ever are asking for our help. And we need more funding to meet the need. Please donate to help provide more Meals-on-Wheels and Grab-N-Go lunches to food-insecure seniors in Deschutes, Crook, Jefferson, and North Klamath Counties.

Maintaining good health and access to healthy food go hand-in-hand. Your support will make it possible for many more homebound and older adults to receive nutritious meals.

Our funding doesn’t cover the costs to support the increased demand for our services.

Meet Joan, one of our Meals-on-Wheels clients. Even though she was married and taking care of a family of her own, Joan spent years teaching children with special needs here in Central Oregon. Now, widowed and suffering from debilitating arthritis, she no longer drives. No grocery shopping. No cooking. No outside social life.

Joan says helping children made her happy. So, too, does the social support of committed Council on Aging volunteers who make sure she is safe and fed. 

“The volunteers have become like family to me,” says Joan. “I’ve come to count on the conversations and friendship they bring with the meals. The Meals-on-Wheels volunteers connect me to my community in a way I can no longer physically manage. They make me feel like I matter and am cared for.”

Joan matters. So do all of our older adult neighbors.

Your support for Meals-on-Wheels is a lifeline. It is not just for Joan, but for all homebound seniors lacking mobility and unable to access nutritious food on their own.

Just as we’ve experienced here in Central Oregon, Jenny Young, vice president of communication at Meals on Wheels America, says, “We have 22% more seniors to serve than pre-COVID-19 and are delivering 56% more meals per week. We have had to scale up rapidly to accommodate the need and are facing a lot of challenges.”

 What if the Council on Aging couldn’t help or provide every hungry senior with healthy meals? Many of our community’s older adults live alone, with no family to come to their aid. If it were not for your generous donation to Council on Aging today, most of them might have nowhere else to turn. 

Help us keep our Central Oregon seniors safe and fed. Please consider making a donation today.

If you prefer to give by check, please send your donation to The Council on Aging, 373 NE Greenwood Street, Bend, OR 97701. Please include your email address, phone number, and return address so we can thank you! Our tax identification number is 93-0661229.

Other Ways You Can Help

The Council on Aging appreciates your support. If financial help is out of reach, you can help our older Americans living with food insecurity in various ways.

Buy extra food and supplies. When you can buy groceries, pick up a few extra items to donate to food banks or food drives. 

Offer your time. Many programs are looking for volunteers to pack meals and make deliveries, so check-in and see what their needs are regarding staff.

Stay out of the grocery store during senior-shopping hours. It’s essential to minimize contact for older adults and immune-compromised people, so don’t shop during these hours.

Check-in on older friends, family, and neighbors. Social distancing may cause older adults to become isolated and reluctant to seek help. Reach out to see how they are doing. Offer to go to the store for them or to help find resources like the Council on Aging of Central Oregon.

Hollie Baker-Lutz, director of equitable access at Feeding America, says, “Food insecurity is an issue for many people. You cannot assume who is in need and who is not, especially now. There is still a stigma of needing assistance and what people need is compassion. Anyone can be in this situation.”

Even once the stay-at-home pandemic measures are lifted in states, many older adults will still face food insecurity. Young says, “This problem isn’t going anywhere. Until there is a vaccine, many seniors will remain homebound and in need of help.”

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