Helping Out the Back Country
Note: this story, By Karen Pearlman, appeared in the UT on March 20, 2014
EAST COUNTY — Seniors living in the back country of East County are about to be better served by Meals-on-Wheels Greater San Diego Inc.
Meals-on-Wheels, the service that supports the independence and well being of senior citizens, recently received a $70,000 contribution grant from the Walmart Foundation.
The funds will be used to help meet its goal of doubling daily meal service to homebound seniors living in San Diego’s rural areas, according to Debbie Case, president/CEO of Meals-on-Wheels in San Diego County.
There are more than 30,000 seniors living in rural the back country of San Diego County, areas where there is limited access — or no access — to a senior nutrition program, Case said.
Meals-on-Wheels Greater San Diego provides two nutritious meals every day to more than 2,700 seniors living in 48 communities throughout San Diego County, Case said. Most of the program’s recipients live alone, and nearly 85 percent are considered low income.
Case said that last year, the program delivered nearly 7,000 meals to 52 clients in the back country in the East County, including Alpine, Jamul, Campo, Descanso, Pine Valley, Boulevard, Jacumba, Potrero, Guatay and unincorporated El Cajon.
Meals-on-Wheels also has partnerships with the Food Bank, delivering shelf stable goods once a month, and Feeding America, for fresh fruits and vegetables delivered twice monthly.
“San Diego County’s homebound rural seniors face daunting barriers to daily nutrition,” Case said. “Senior nutrition services or distribution centers, if they exist, offer meals for limited days, only on site. Traveling is not an option for homebound seniors.
“The backcountry of East County is underserved, with a great need. There are so many low income residents, and people who don’t really know where to turn to. (This) backcountry delivery service (may be a) solution to hunger and isolation.”
In 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation launched “Fighting Hunger Together” – a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 to help end hunger in America. As part of this effort, Walmart stores in California donated nearly 10.2 million pounds of food (8½ million meals) in 2013.
The contribution to Meals-on-Wheels Greater San Diego was made possible through the Walmart Foundation’s California State Giving Program. The program granted more than $400,000 to nonprofits in San Diego County last year.