Lt. Gov. Dan McKee on March 1 kicked off Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island’s month-long campaign by delivering a meal to one of the thousands of homebound Rhode Island seniors who rely on the agency’s services to remain healthy and safe in their own homes.
“Our homebound senior neighbors depend on Meals on Wheels as a lifeline that keeps them healthy, safe and connected. For 50 years, this organization has provided vital services that vastly improve the lives of Rhode Island’s older adults. I’m honored to be joining the kickoff for March for Meals today,” said Lt. Gov. McKee, Chair of Rhode Island’s Long Term Care Coordinating Council.
Lt. Gov. McKee delivered a meal to and visited with Kathleen Beauregard, 76, a lifelong Cumberland resident who lost her husband to Alzheimer’s in 2002. Beauregard has been receiving meals for two years because she is unable to safely shop for or prepare a meal on her own.
“Ensuring older Rhode Islanders have access to healthful foods and opportunities to thrive in the community are priorities for Governor Raimondo and for my division,” said Elderly Affairs Director Rose Amoros Jones. “Meals on Wheels is playing an important role in bringing people together to share stories, laughs, and life experiences. They are a vital part of a broader network of supports for older Rhode Islanders, which we must continue to strengthen. We congratulate Meals on Wheels, and appreciate their fifty years of service to Rhode Islanders.”
Webster Bank Senior Vice President, Head of Government Lending Xay Khamsyvoravong accompanied the lieutenant governor. Webster Bank is this year’s March for Meals Golden Anniversary Sponsor and was the campaign’s presenting sponsor for six years.
“Webster Bank is proud to be the March for Meals Golden Anniversary Sponsor,” said Khamsyvoravong. “We believe in supporting the communities we serve, and this marks our seventh year of partnering with Meals on Wheels to provide vulnerable Rhode Islanders with hot, nutritious meals.”
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. Last year, Meals on Wheels of RI delivered more than 300,000 meals and provided daily safety checks to more than 2,400 homebound Rhode Islanders.
“We are honored to have Lt. Gov. McKee’s support for March for Meals and the important work we are doing throughout the year to help our homebound seniors safely age in place,” said Meals on Wheels of RI Board Chairman Harold “Skip” Burns. “We are extremely thankful for the generous support of our valued sponsors and all those who will help us spread the word this month.”
Throughout March, Rhode Island’s congressional delegation, state mayors and campaign sponsors will deliver complete and nutritious meals to Meals on Wheels of RI clients and provide those clients with a friendly visit that often is the only social interaction they will have that day.
“We are grateful for our relationship with Meals on Wheels of RI and the exceptional work being done here to keep our homebound seniors healthy,” said Corey McCarty, vice president, consumer segment, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Meals on Wheels of RI board member. “Meals on Wheels of RI fills a tremendous need in our communities and we are honored to be part of serving this population.”
Administration on Aging research has proven that receiving daily delivered meals along with socialization opportunities reduces seniors’ feelings of isolation and loneliness and improves their mental and physical health, including lower rates of costly hospitalizations. The cost of one year of Meals on Wheels of RI home-delivered meals is equal to the cost of one day in the hospital for a Rhode Island senior.
March for Meals also highlights the continuously growing need for Meals on Wheels of RI services. The agency at times has hundreds of seniors on its wait list and, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Rhode Island has one of the highest concentrations of seniors in the United States and is projected to add 100,000 seniors to our population by 2030.