It’s a new way to “do lunch,” and help the community in East Contra Costa County.
With a growing elderly population, Meals-on-Wheels/Senior Outreach Services is in need of a few good men and women to deliver food to seniors in Oakley, Brentwood and other towns on the edge of the East Bay.
About 750 seniors depend on the healthy meals delivered by the volunteers and prepared by professional cooks. The service allows them to live at home because someone checks in on them daily.
Elaine Clark, CEO of Meals-on-Wheels and Senior Outreach Services, says the poverty rate in East Contra Costa County is high and the population there is growing. At the same time, there are few social service organizations in cities like Oakley and Brentwood.
While homebuilders are building brand new subdivisions for families, older people in the area have lived there all their lives and can’t leave, Clark said.
For these reasons, her organization is raising funds and planning to expand in “Far East County,” over the next few years, Clark said.
Currently, 11 delivery routes need permanent volunteers to spend about an hour delivering meals to the same seniors on the same day each week. Since January, staff have been driving those routes, which each serve about 15 people.
MOW-SOS staff help the elderly and their families deal with fall prevention, caregiver support, exercise and emergency issues, Clark said.
MOW-SOS provides meals for free. Clark said keeping old people healthy saves taxpayers money.
“The longer seniors can stay healthy and independent, the fewer services they consume, like 911 and Medicare. If we can prevent falls, we can save money,” she said.
Clark said she’s hoping to provide in-home exercise programs to prevent falls, train family members and hire a case manager to work in East County. She’s also working with the city of Oakley to renovate an old fire station to function as a senior center, which the city doesn’t have, because socialization is key to preventing depression in the elderly.
“We’re hoping companies, civic groups, churches step up,” said MOW-SOS spokeswoman Leigh Shughrou. “It’s an easy thing to do on your lunch break.”
One company has already stepped up by allowing their employees to deliver meals during their lunch breaks, she said. But MOW-SOS's plans for East County will require many more do-gooders and funding to provide the services seniors need.