AARP Hawaii has launched an initiative aimed at raising awareness and helping non-profits meet the growing demand for food among Hawaii’s frail elderly population. Part of the AARP Foundation Drive to End Hunger, the initiative supports the hunger-fighting efforts of Lanakila Meals on Wheels and Hawaii Meals on Wheels – organizations providing home-delivered meals to seniors unable to cook or shop for themselves.
Drive to End Hunger focuses on a specific challenge the organizations face in feeding Hawaii’s aging population: the shortage of volunteer drivers to deliver meals. Drivers are a critical link to the elder community, often providing the only contact many otherwise isolated seniors have with the outside world.
Without volunteer drivers, Hawaii’s Meals on Wheels organizations can’t keep up with the growing demand for services. “We have a wait list of 400 residents who’ve requested meal service that we’re not able to provide at current volunteer staffing and funding levels,” said Lanakila Meals on Wheels Director Lyn Moku. Hawaii Meals on Wheels Executive Director Claire Shimabukuro faces a similar predicament. “We would like to deliver more meals to seniors in need, but our ability to increase the number of existing routes is tied to the number of available drivers,” she said.
Both Hawaii Meals on Wheels and Lanakila Meals on Wheels host monthly orientation sessions where individuals can ask questions and get a feel for what it takes to volunteer. Volunteer drivers should to be patient, reliable and friendly. They should have a car with valid insurance and safety sticker and be available for up to three hours every other week. Find more information online, or contact the organizations directly.
Food insecurity is associated with many negative health outcomes among the elderly – including poorer health and higher probability of being hospitalized. According to research commissioned by AARP Foundation in 2011, Hawaii ranked 25th in the country in the number of adults age 50 and older who were food insecure (6.68 percent of older residents affected).
Drive to End Hunger is part of a nation-wide AARP Foundation assault on the hunger problem among Americans 50+. We’re taking steps to feed those who are hungry now, while developing long-term, sustainable answers that address the root causes of hunger among those 50+.
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