AARP Hawai‘i has launched an initiative to raise awareness and help non-profits meet the growing demand for food among Hawai‘i’s frail elderly population. The initiative, part of the national AARP Foundation Drive to End Hunger, supports the efforts of Lanakila Meals on Wheels and Hawai‘i Meals on Wheels — organizations that provide home-delivered meals to seniors unable to cook or shop for themselves.
Drive to End Hunger focuses on a specific challenge the two organizations face in meeting the growing demand for services for Hawai‘i’s aging population: the shortage of volunteer drivers. Drivers are a critical link to the elder community, not only because of the meals they deliver but also due to the contact they have with many seniors who are otherwise isolated.
Without volunteer drivers, Hawai‘i’s Meals on Wheels organizations can’t keep up with the growing demand for their services. “We have a wait list of 400 residents who’ve requested meal service that we’re not able to provide at current volunteer staffing and funding levels,” said Lanakila Meals on Wheels Director Lyn Moku. Hawai‘i Meals on Wheels Executive Director Claire Shimabukuro faces a similar predicament. “We would like to deliver more meals to seniors in need, but our ability to increase the number of existing routes is tied to the number of available drivers,” she said.
Both Hawai‘i Meals on Wheels and Lanakila Meals on Wheels host monthly orientation sessions where individuals can ask questions and get a feel for what it takes to volunteer. In general, volunteer drivers need to be patient, reliable and friendly. They should have a car with valid insurance and safety sticker and be available for up to three hours, every other week. According to research commissioned by AARP Foundation in 2011, Hawai‘i ranked 25th in the country in the number of adults age 50 and older who were food insecure (6.68 percent of older residents affected). Food insecurity is also associated with numerous negative health outcomes among the elderly — including poorer health and higher probability of being hospitalized.
Drive to End Hunger is part of a nation-wide AARP Foundation assault on the hunger problem among Americans 50+. We’re taking steps to feed those who are hungry now, while developing long-term, sustainable answers that address the root causes of hunger among those 50+.
For more information & volunteer, call:
LANAKILA MEALS ON WHEELS
531-0555 | www.lanakilapacific.org
HAWAI‘I MEALS ON WHEELS
988-6747 | www.hmow.org