Subaru, Meals on Wheels team up to feed seniors in need during holidays
KTAR’s Community Spotlight is shining a light on the Meals on Wheels America program during the Subaru Share the Love Event at your Local Phoenix Area Subaru Retailers.
Subaru has been putting on the Share the Love Event for the last 13 years, all of which have featured Meals on Wheels.
The meal program is designed to serve those in the community who may have limited mobility, difficulty shopping or struggle to prepare their own meals at home.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, it had been offering a congregate location — like a senior center or cafe — where folks who are mobile can eat with peers.
“Over the years, the demand has been so great for Meals on Wheels and the resources have simply not kept pace, that we have seen in America a growing epidemic of both senior hunger and isolation,” President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America Ellie Hollander told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.
“So that was before the pandemic hit. Subsequent to the pandemic — overnight — these congregate locations where many Meals on Wheels programs serve seniors who are more mobile, they had to suddenly change to be able to suspend service in the facility, but to create the ability for people who could get there to drive to pick up packages of meals to be able to eat at home.”
Hollander added that Meals on Wheels is serving 47% more seniors and 77% more meals overall across the country than before the COVID-19 pandemic started.
To date, the Subaru Share the Love Event has contributed the equivalent of 2.3 million meals across the U.S.
The event is going on until Jan. 4 and Subaru will give $250 for every vehicle sold or leased during that time to a select charity.
Meals on Wheels has always been dependent on volunteers to keep their wheels rolling, Hollander said.
Of the approximately 2.4 million volunteers across the nation, many are 55 years old or older and have had to stay home due to concerns with their own health as it pertains to the virus.
“So we’ve had to shift in some programs the way that volunteers are supporting Meals on Wheels,” Hollander said.
She explained that many of those who are not able to drive a vehicle right now due to safety measures are also not able to help prepare meals for themselves.
Instead, those folks are having to make phone calls or write to pen-pals who may have delivered food to them in the past or are currently dropping off food to friends.
Those that are interested in volunteering can get more information on the Meals on Wheels America website.