On February 3, 2021

Meals on Wheels celebrates donation from Bernie Sanders meme sweatshirt fundraiser

While the recent Bernie meme and sweatshirt sales have sold out and all proceeds are going toward Senator Sanders’ home state of Vermont for the Meals on Wheels programs, we, at the Vermont Association of Area Agencies on Aging (V4A) couldn’t be more ecstatic.

Carol Stamatakis, president of V4A and executive director of Senior Solutions, the Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont, reports, “We at Senior Solutions are overwhelmed by Senator Sanders’ generosity! We continue to be grateful that our Senator has been such a leader at the national level on older adult issues. I have been getting calls from friends and family all over the country of all ages telling me they are ordering sweatshirts!”

Courtney Anderson, the nutrition director and co-director for Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging said, “We are incredibly humbled by the extremely generous gift from Senator Bernie Sanders. For years the Meals on Wheels program has been underfunded, and we struggle statewide to serve our most vulnerable population. These proceeds will help continue to meet the ever-increasing nutritional needs of our older Vermonters”.

The five area agencies on aging located throughout the state are members of Meals on Wheels America whose mission is to empower local community programs to improve the health and quality of life of the seniors they serve so that no one is left hungry or isolated. The Meals on Wheels program is otherwise termed as home-delivered meals.

Each of the AAAs contracts with local meal providers to offer 4,000-5,000 home delivered meals per week. In November 2020 alone our AAAs meal programs provided a weekly total of nearly 25,000 meals.

The Meals on Wheels program has gained international attention since Senator Sanders’ generous sweatshirt sales. To provide a bit of history, the federal Older Americans Act (OAA) established a national nutrition program in 1972 for adults who were 60 and older. The OAA Nutrition Programs include community nutrition program sites and the home delivered nutrition programs (Meals-on-Wheels) for four main purposes:

Reducing hunger and food insecurity

Promoting socialization

Promoting health and wellbeing

Delaying adverse health conditions

The home-delivered program is often the first in-home service that an older adult receives and serves as a primary access point for other home and community-based services. Volunteers and paid staff who deliver meals to older adults often spend time with the individual to help decrease feelings of isolation. They are also encouraged to report any health or other issues that they may observe.

All meals provide at least one third of the daily recommended dietary allowances for adults age 60 and older, in greatest economic and/or social need, with particular attention to low-income minorities, those in rural areas, and those with limited English proficiency.

The intent was to make community-based nutrition services available to older adults who may be at risk of losing their independence.

“The sweatshirts have apparently sold out,” said Hunt, “but by no means have we even begun to meet the nutritional needs of our older citizens. It is our hope that the publicity from the Bernie meme and sweatshirts has heightened awareness that we must fund our meals on wheels programs as a matter of basic survival.

“One out of two older adults are at risk of malnutrition. This leads to poor health outcomes and an extremely higher price to pay than the cost to provide nutrition meals. We are facing a major health crisis.”

To support their work visit vermont4a.org.

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