This year during the Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA)’s “March For Meals” annual campaign, SAGE Eldercare is encouraging local elected officials, police and fire chiefs, as well as other administrators, to spend an hour and a half of their time to deliver meals to local seniors. Additionally, anyone can take the pledge to help end senior hunger by 2020 by registering online at www.mowaa.org/takethepledge (SAGE Eldercare should be designated as the local program).
According to Marianne Kranz, SAGE Eldercare’s Director of Meals On Wheels, “We invite local officials from each town we deliver meals to, along with county and state representatives. It is vital that they get a sense of homebound seniors who are often 'hidden' from the community. SAGE volunteers are often the only people checking in on these individuals and without the support of local governments and officials we wouldn’t be able to do our job.”
Kranz emphasizes that for many homebound seniors, the friendly visit from a Meals On Wheels (MOW) volunteer may be the only contact they have with someone that day. About fifteen times a year, SAGE has to turn to the police to do welfare checks on clients who don’t respond, and about five times a year, SAGE MOW volunteer calls 911 when finding a client in need of immediate professional and/or medical assistance.
This year, March For Meals also celebrates the 41st Anniversary of the inclusion of Senior Nutrition Programs in the Older American’s Act (OAA). In March of 1972, President Nixon signed into law a new Title of the Act that laid the groundwork for more than 5,000 Senior Nutrition Programs. The OAA is the primary piece of federal legislation that authorizes and supports vital nutrition services, both congregate and Meals On Wheels, to Americans age 60 and older.
SAGE’s Meals On Wheels, established in 1966, is the oldest MOW program in New Jersey. In 2012, approximately 600 volunteers delivered 36,125 meals to 247 people in Union County (Berkeley Heights, Mountainside, New Providence, Scotch Plains, Springfield and Summit), Essex County (Millburn and Short Hills) and Morris County (Chatham and Madison). Each weekday, 20-30 volunteers were assigned 14 routes and drove a total of about 200 miles to deliver about 150 meals to 120 clients in the three counties.
SAGE Eldercare supports the independence, well-being and quality of life of older adults, their families and caregivers, through the provision of client-centered health, social and support services. Founded in 1954, SAGE is one of the few non-profit eldercare agencies in the United States, and the oldest in New Jersey, that offers a broad and comprehensive array of services under one roof that assist elderly, often frail, adults to remain independent in their own homes.
Programs at SAGE Eldercare include: HomeCare; Meals On Wheels; Spend-A-Day Adult Day Health Center; GPS (Guidance, Planning and Support) Services; InfoCare free information and referral service; Fall Prevention Initiative; Home Repair Service; Grocery Shopping and Errand Service; Bill Paying Service; Holistic Living Services; Alzheimer’s and PREP caregiver support groups; Community Education; and Union County Medicare SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program). In addition, SAGE has operated a Furniture Restoration Workshop, run by volunteers who specialize in caning and rushing chairs and refinishing furniture, and a Resale Shop for more than 50 years. Both provide essential funding that supports the organization’s programs and services for older adults in the community.
Editor's Note: This information was submitted to Summit Patch by SAGE Eldercare.