Government cutbacks are putting senior citizens at grave risk of going hungry

South Orange County may be the land of plenty for some, but not everyone is living the good life.  It’s especially true for thousands of homebound senior citizens who often wonder where their next meal will come from and who depend upon Meals on Wheels. While the government grinds its wheels in seemingly endless deadlock, funds needed to support this life-saving program have been cut off. 

Consequently, Age Well Senior Services, Orange County’s leading nonprofit provider of programs, services and resources for seniors living in 21 cities located in South Orange County, is putting the call out to Orange County residents to help these older Americans who are in danger of going hungry.

As the area’s Meals on Wheels provider, Age Well has launched its Next Meal Club, which asks donors to make tax-deductible monthly contributions to help the organization provide three nutritious meals daily to homebound seniors. 

For example, a donor’s credit card can be billed monthly.  For more information about the Next Meal Club, visit www.myagewell.org or call 949-855-8033.  Donations may also be sent to Age Well Senior Services, Inc., 24300 El Toro Rd., Laguna Woods, California 92637.

“We are now in a crisis situation caused by governmental cutbacks and the state’s withholding of funds that would purchase life-saving meals for older Americans who depend upon Meals on Wheels for their very survival,” said Marilyn Ditty, CEO and founder of the nonprofit organization, which was named Best Charity by OC Weekly in 2011.

“We have food available for a small fee, but we have realized that many seniors can’t even afford $8.50 for weekend meals,” she said. “This is the first time in my 33 years in this field that I have seen funding for meals for seniors cut.  I can’t believe that the state legislators aren’t concerned.  Even the federal government, which has funded the Older American Act since 1965, has not provided a cost of living increase for four years.  Rising food costs and fuel price increases for the vehicles needed to deliver the meals are having more of an impact than anyone thought.  More than 30 percent of our seniors are living on their social security checks, and so every small increase affects them significantly.”

Age Well relies on a combination of funds through the Older Americans Act and other governmental sources along with critically important gifts, grants and contributions from private and corporate donors.

The organization serves 1,800 seniors daily with educational, nutritional, social and human services.  Last year alone, through Meals on Wheels, Age Well provided more than a half million meals to seniors living at home and unable to prepare their own meals or go out to eat, and who otherwise have little or no assistance to obtain adequate meals.

For more information, contact Becky Lomaka, director of Fund Development, at 949-855-8033.

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