Letter: What a $5 Meal Can Deliver

What a $5 Meal Can Buy

To the Editor:

A Jan. 15 New York Times article by Paula Span titled “More to Meal Delivery Than Food” points out what advocates of home-delivered meals have known since the program’s beginning in 1972. As people age, they sometimes need just a bit of extra help to remain independent and safe at home where nearly all wish to remain. Meals on Wheels fills that need with a nutritious meal, a warm greeting from a neighbor and the reassurance that someone will be stopping by regularly.

Now the evidence is in. Researchers from Brown University studied the connection between home-delivered meals and admissions to nursing homes. They reviewed statistics from 2000 to 2009 from a wide variety of sources, including Medicare, the Federal Administration on Aging, states and counties, and more than 16,000 nursing homes. Their findings, published in the journal Health Services Research, shows that those states spending more on home-delivered meals had fewer “low-care” nursing home residents. In fact, they calculated that states spending just an extra $25 per person per year on home-delivered meals for those over age 65 reduced low-care nursing home placements by a full percentage point.

Dr. Vincent Mor, the study’s coauthor said, “We spend a lot on crazy medical interventions that don’t have as much effect as a $5 meal. (With this data,) we’re able to see this relationship for the first time.”

Investment in community-based wraparound services, including home-delivered meals and transportation, makes huge financial sense for society. More importantly, these basic services keep our older citizens and the disabled in our communities.

As the umbrella organization supporting the activities and programs of eight senior centers, Grafton County Senior Citizens Council is a lifeline for many — not just for Meals on Wheels, but for transportation, senior-center lunches and socialization, and a wide range of other health and wellness activities. On behalf of those we serve, we say thanks for helping us achieve our mission for the past 40 years: “connecting older adults to programs and services that support their health, dignity and independence.”

Roberta Berner

Executive Director

James W. Varnum

Board President

Grafton County Senior Citizens Council