Grocery shopping and cooking seem like such simple daily chores and for many folks they are.
Unfortunately, for senior citizens unable to leave their homes due to a variety of reasons, meal time is a lot more complicated.
But it doesn’t have to be thanks to the Rochester-based Older Persons’ Commission (OPC) Meals on Wheels program.
Last year, Meals on Wheels delivered 94,038 nutritionally-balanced meals to seniors, age 60 and older, living in northeast Oakland County and of those, 9,464 were to Oxford residents, according to OPC Executive Director Renee Cortright.
Cortright made a presentation to the Oxford Township Board at last week’s regular meeting. She explained what Meal on Wheels does and who it helps.
“I think your program is wonderful,” said township Supervisor Bill Dunn.
Meals on Wheels provides both hot and cold nutritious meals to homebound seniors, seven days a week, in Oxford, Addison, Brandon, Orion, Oakland and Independence townships along with the cities of Rochester, Rochester Hills and Auburn Hills.
Based on survey results, 70 percent of Meals on Wheels clients are female and 88 is the median age, according to Cortright.
“Seventy-three percent said (Meals on Wheels) helped them live independently,” she said.
Eligibility for the program is not based on income. Seniors must be at least 60 years old and unable to grocery shop and/or prepare meals for themselves. A short-term option is available for seniors who are recuperating or undergoing rehabilitation.
Seniors receive meals within 24 hours of making a request and there is no waiting list.
“We really pride ourselves on that,” Cortright said.
All meals are delivered by volunteers be they individuals, families, church groups or service organizations.
“Our volunteers are vital,” Cortright said.
While making their deliveries, these volunteers offer seniors “kind words” and provide wellness checks, according to Cortright.
On their birthdays, the seniors receive cake and cards. They also receive handmade cards, placemats and crafts from area school children, daffodils in the spring and poinsettias at Christmas time.
“It’s more than just a meal,” Cortright said.
Monetary donations, which are tax deductible, make up an important part of Meals on Wheels’ funding. Each meal costs $9.74 and of that, 29 percent is funded by donations and OPC’s annual Run/Walk for Meals fund-raiser.
Programs like Meals on Wheels are becoming increasingly important as the population ages, according to Cortright.
She provided township officials with some statistics from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).
Based on SEMCOG’s forecast, the number of Oxford Township residents who are age 60 and older was 3,334 in 2015. By 2030, that number is projected to increase to 5,285, which is a 58.5 percent jump.
“That’s quite astounding,” Cortright said.
Based on SEMCOG’s forecast, the number of people age 60 and older in the OPC service area will increase by 45 percent, from 60,538 in 2015 to 87,759 in 2030.
Seniors play an important role in the local economy as they spend their Social Security and pension checks along with investment earnings. “They’re the ones that are going to (use) the local grocery stores and your local retailers. They spend locally,” Cortright said.
In the end, Cortright wanted township officials to know OPC is available to help them “respond to the needs of the growing senior population,” whether it’s providing meals or helping to establish senior programming.
These things are important when it comes to “keeping the seniors in their homes (for) as long as possible,” Cortright told officials.
For more information about Meals on Wheels, visit www.opcseniorcenter.org or call (248) 608-0264. To receive a meal, call between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.