Proclaiming March as “March For Meals Month,” Gov. Gina Raimondo on March 2 launched Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island’s month-long campaign at Federal Hill House in Providence.
“We must continue to do everything we can to ensure that seniors can live independently for as long as they want and to support the families who care for them,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “For that reason, Rhode Island owes an enormous debt of gratitude to the dedicated advocates and generous volunteers at Meals on Wheels. Because of their tireless efforts, thousands of seniors every week get the good meals and great company they deserve.”
March For Meals unites elected officials, business leaders and community champions to rally public support for the agency’s critical work in combating the issues of senior hunger and isolation across the state. In 2019, Meals on Wheels of RI delivered more than 308,000 meals and provided daily safety checks to 2,563 homebound Rhode Islanders.
“Along with the meals and vital safety checks, our more than 700 friendly volunteers are also giving our clients an opportunity for socialization that eases their feelings of isolation and loneliness,” said Meals on Wheels of RI Executive Director Meghan Grady. “Each weekday, we deliver nearly 1,200 meals across the state, from Woonsocket to Westerly, but we are delivering so much more than a meal.”
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Managing Director, Community Investment Carolyn Belisle, and Webster Bank SVP, Public Sector Finance, Xay Khamsyvoravong, representing the campaign’s sustaining sponsors, also served meals to and visited with diners at the Meals on Wheels of RI Capital City Café Program dining site at Federal Hill House.
The program—which offers more mobile older adults socialized dining at eight sites throughout Providence and one in Cranston—last year served 25,758 meals to 595 Rhode Island seniors.
“At Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI), we have a vision to passionately lead a state of health and well-being across Rhode Island. We recognize that health is so much more than what happens strictly within the healthcare system; it’s also about life factors, or social determinants of health, that contribute to overall health,” said Matt Collins, M.D., MBA, BCBSRI executive vice president and chief medical officer. “Meals on Wheels provides so much more than a nutritious meal, which is critical, but the meal delivery visits themselves also provide for valuable social connections and interactions. Particularly for older adults, social isolation has been linked to a number of adverse health issues, such as dementia, increased risk for hospital readmission and increased risk of falls. Meals on Wheels services are a vital component to providing our state’s older RI’s with a feeling of safety, allowing them to maintain independence, dignity, and well-being.”
“Webster Bank is proud to be the Sustaining Sponsor of the 2020 March for Meals,” said Doug Scala, Regional President, New England Region, Webster Bank. “We believe in supporting the communities we serve, and this marks our eighth year of partnering with Meals on Wheels to provide vulnerable Rhode Islanders with hot, nutritious meals.”
Throughout March, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation, state officials and mayors, as well as campaign sponsors will deliver complete and nutritious meals to Meals on Wheels of RI clients, lending their strong voices to public advocacy for the continuation and expansion of the organization’s critical programs.
“Our focus is always on empowering people to age strong, but we don’t do this work alone. We couldn’t,” said Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging Director Rosamaria Amoros Jones. “It takes the whole village, and Meals on Wheels is such an important partner. Every day, their staff and volunteers crisscross the state, delivering meals, friendly conversation, and smiles to people who are often isolated from others. We all know the very real threat to health that isolation can breed, which makes this work all the more vital and heartfelt. We are fortunate to have a vibrant community of healthy aging advocates, like Meals on Wheels, in Rhode Island who work tirelessly to create opportunities for all of us to age healthfully and happily in the places we call home.”
For more information on March for Meals or how to make an impact today in combating senior hunger and isolation across the state, visit www.rimeals.org.