Jeff Smythe, executive director of Meals on Wheels Atlanta, is today’s Around Atlanta guest on Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio. Meals on Wheels Atlanta, which is currently celebrating 50 years of service, is an independent nonprofit dedicated to helping older adults and senior citizens stay in their own homes and communities for as long as it is safely possible.
Started with the name Senior Citizens Services, Meals on Wheels has carried on the original organization’s tradition of providing meals and additional services for seniors, from home repairs and Alzheimer’s daycare to senior centers and the Senior Companion program. With so many program options, Meals on Wheels Atlanta provides a variety of ways that help give senior citizens their independence.
There is currently a growing need for these services, as the population of ageing seniors in Atlanta is increasing. One out of every six seniors in Atlanta is hungry, and more than 300 individuals are on both the meal and home repair waiting lists. Many seniors, especially those on the waiting list, go without food for long periods of time as they attempt to stretch out what food they do have, meaning they don’t receive enough calories to remain healthy.
Meal on Wheels Atlanta aims to help those seniors that are 60 and older, but they do provide referral services for younger adults in need. To determine who receives its services, the organization focus on a number of factors, including the senior’s family support, income, what type of meals and how many they’re able to provide on their own, as well as what chronic diseases or illnesses they may be facing. By prioritizing those with the greatest need, they’re able to determine who will receive meals and who is placed on the waiting list.
As the organization is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, its goal for the year is to find even more creative ways to help more seniors while also raising awareness about the organization. One of the new ways Meals on Wheels Atlanta is providing additional help is by partnering with Kaiser Permanente’s Extra Helpings program, which provides additional meal supplements for those who aren’t getting enough calories each day.
Jeff describes Meals on Wheels Atlanta as an under-the-radar nonprofit, as many people don’t realize exactly what it does or how many additional services it provides. By raising awareness and encouraging more people to get involved, his hope is that the organization will be able to provide help to even more seniors in need. Individuals, companies and organizations can get involved through hands-on volunteering opportunities, donating money or canned goods and much more. Volunteers can help with meal prep or delivery, or they can volunteer for the other services provided by Meals on Wheels.
These additional services provided by the organization include the Alzheimer’s daycare center, which allows family members to take their loved ones to it during the day while they’re working so they can remain at their home instead of in a nursing home. Meals on Wheels also provides services to senior centers throughout metro Atlanta, and it performs home repairs that volunteers of every skill level can help with. Finally, the organization provides Senior Companions, which matches able-bodied seniors with not-so-able bodied seniors.
Having delivered more than 3.4 million meals in its 50 years, Meals on Wheels Atlanta aims to make 2015 the year it helps more seniors than ever throughout metro Atlanta. For more information on the organization, listen to the full podcast above. To learn more, volunteer, donate or request services for a senior in your life, visit www.MealsonWheelsAtlanta.org.
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