Yesterday morning, Senator Jack Reed took the time to visit citizens who benefit from Meals on Wheels to kick off the “March for Meals” campaign.
The senator partnered with David Casey, vice president of Workforce Strategies and Chief Diversity Officer at CVS Caremark, and Heather Amaral, executive director for Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island, to deliver hot meals to two apartments in Cranston.
The campaign aims to shed light on the issue of senior hunger in Rhode Island and encourage more individuals to take action and support the cause.
“Hunger within our senior population is an issue, both nationally and here in Rhode Island. March for Meals is a great opportunity to increase awareness so people of all ages can come together and create change,” said Senator Reed, who was the first legislator to participate in the campaign. Throughout the remainder of the month, other members of the Congressional delegation are expected to follow suit.
During the morning Reed, David and Amaral met with Emilio Rao and his wife, Theresa, and Roslyn Markoff. Emilio was appreciative of Reed’s visit and the Meals on Wheels program as a whole.
“It’s very important,” said the 93-year-old lifelong resident of Cranston. “It helps with your meals; it helps with my health.”
The meals are designed with the help of a registered dietitian and will meet one-third of the dietary reference intake for seniors.
A former short-order cook at a Cranston diner, Emilio gives the quality of the food an A. “The meals are very good,” he said.
Casey and his wife serve as volunteers themselves and have seen the benefits of this program up-close.
“It’s not just the meals. It’s getting to come out and spend some time with the people,” said Casey.
“I have to give thanks to those volunteers,” said Markoff, who has lived in Cranston for 12 years. “They are here in the cold, in the warm, anything.”
This drop-off by volunteers can sometimes be the only social interaction these homebound seniors have. Reed, Casey and Amaral not only delivered food, but also took the time to sit and speak with the homeowners about their history in the area.
“In this tough economy, the food and human contact we provide to seniors is needed more than ever,” said Amaral. “We hope that everyone who is able to will support our March for Meals campaign. Our clients are counting on us. We can’t let them down.”
Markoff, whose husband used to work at Paramount Cards, took the opportunity to speak with the senator about the current state of Rhode Island business, asking what the plan was to improve the situation.
“That is the key question around here,” said Reed, speaking to Markoff about various plans the state has, including the expansion of T.F. Green Airport.
Following the drop-offs, Casey was happy to have the chance to meet with the individuals and help spread CVS Caremark’s mission of helping individuals on their path to better health.
“It is heart-warming,” said Casey about taking the time to speak with individuals who benefit from this program.
In 2012 alone, Meals on Wheels delivered 360,299 meals to 2,650 clients through the state; they expect to deliver their 17 millionth meal at some point in 2013. The program, which began over 44 years ago servicing 17 clients in Providence, now has the support of 1,000 volunteers who deliver meals.
The program also sponsors meals at eight dining sites in Providence and Little Compton, a personal emergency response program and a pet food program for those homebound individuals with animals.