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Urgent: Support Needed for Ashland's Senior Meal on Wheels

Tax deductible
This fundraiser is organized by the Nutrition Council for the Ashland County Aging Unit and its meals program. (FYI - Our offices are in the Enrichment (senior) Center, but we are not affiliated with them or the Bargain Hut.) We had to do a little update to this funding appeal to remain compliant with regulations. The need is still urgent.

We feed seniors in Ashland County.

We provide other senior and caregiver assistive services but at this time our meals program is our biggest concern. We would like to raise community awareness of this program and its needs.

Last year we provided meal service countywide to 441 individuals and fed them 30,113 meals costing approximately $14,000 each month. That's just the food cost, it doesn't include staff and volunteer costs or supplies.

Our funding is through various resources including:
  • grants from the state and federal government
  • Ashland County
  • In-kind donations of time from our volunteers - while this is not monetary support, it helps us save staff time and costs. Volunteers are the lifeblood of all our programs.
  • Donations from senior meal participants

Here are some reasons why donating to our Senior Meals and Meals on Wheels is so important:

  • Before the pandemic, nearly one in eight older adults (aged 60+) was threatened by hunger, and 7.7 million (aged 65+) were socially isolated. The pandemic magnified these issues for seniors.

Since the pandemic, 7.1 million seniors are not threatened by hunger but are now food insecure which means they now lack reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Social isolation of seniors has increased (1 in 3 seniors) and is correlated with cognitive decline.

  • Long-term studies, spanning from 1996 to 2023, have found that Meals on Wheels programs reduce health care utilization and costs, falls, nursing home use, hospital and emergency room visits, social isolation, and loneliness and improve seniors' ability to age in place, food security, diet quality, and nutritional status.

Senior Meal programs work. They help our seniors thrive and help communities keep costs for public services down. Every dollar contributed to a senior meals program helps a senior thrive and have enough money to pay their rent, buy their medications, or pay for their other necessities.

  • But all seniors have SNAP benefits/food share, right? No, the temporary increase in SNAP benefits during the pandemic helped seniors and gave them better access to nutritious food and meals but not all qualify.

Many of our seniors have now lost SNAP benefits completely. Some of them only received $25 in SNAP benefits during the pandemic. While that may not seem significant, it was a boon to our seniors. That seemingly small amount can make the difference between taking medication or not, or having the ability to purchase clothes detergent or other cleaning supplies regularly. They need us more than ever.

  • If federally funded programs, such as ours, are forced to cut back services or turn away clients due to lack of adequate funding, communities will need to find a way to provide for those clients or risk them going without necessary nutrition and services. This places further strain on all local resources while dramatically increasing costs to operate a Meals on Wheels program.

Federal and state funding levels have not kept pace with program costs and current inflation levels combined with decreased funding for supportive programs for seniors, such as the SNAP/food share program, this program is more necessary now than at any other time in history.

  • The demand for home-delivered nutrition services skyrocketed during the pandemic for Meals on Wheels programs. Nationally, Meals on Wheels programs delivered an average of 100% more home-delivered meals at their pandemic peak than they served before the pandemic.

That need has not decreased and food insecurity for those over 60 has increased every year since. The cases we see are the most dire situations for those without choices.

  • As of July 2021, they were still serving an average of 57% more meals than before the pandemic.

Our numbers reflect this same trend and we have calls every day because there is a dire need for more senior meals.

  • One in three programs has a waiting list with seniors spending an average of three months waiting for vital meals. Federal funding levels provided by the Older Americans Act would need to increase by $32 million this year just to keep pace with inflation.

We have not needed a waitlist for meal service at any time in our program. But with the current inadequate funding levels, decreased donations from seniors in the program, and increased wage costs - we are creating criteria and policies for a waitlist now. We can avoid a waitlist with more funding.

  • In 2018, less than 1% of large private and community foundation grant funding was given to aging issues.
We rely on donations from the community to continue to deliver meals. Your support is critical to continuing the senior meals program at the current and rising level of senior need.

Every little bit helps. Every share helps. Every person you talk to and increase the awareness of this need helps.

Please give what you can and pass it on to others.

If you don't want to donate online or prefer to donate directly, give us a call (715-682-4414 ext.0) and we can process it over the phone. If you'd like to mail it here's our address:

Ashland County Aging Unit, Inc.
400 Chapple Avenue, Suite 100
Ashland, WI 54806

Thank you for listening and for any assistance you might generously provide!

*If you'd like us to come talk to your business or group so you have more information to help you raise awareness or funds for our program, please call us! We'd be happy to do the outreach!*


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Laura Nagro
Ashland, WI
Ashland County Aging Unit Inc

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