by Joanne Lynn
“Very, very dysfunctional. You need evidence? Try these two tales.
“First, a remarkably illuminating piece of research was released on March 2 concerning the Meals on Wheels program. The title was ‘More than a Meal,’ and it showed that people who got warm meals home delivered by volunteers 5 days per week did better in many ways than people who got frozen food delivered once a week and much better than those who were on a wait list for Meals on Wheels. That finding was not surprising: Our mothers could and did tell us enough to expect that finding, though it is good to have it properly documented.
“What is so profoundly dysfunctional is that there were eight U.S. cities participating that each had waiting lists for Meals on Wheels of more than 6 months. That’s right: The program to provide food so that elderly people could stay at home, live with dignity, and count on a friendly face coming by on most days has a waiting list longer than many needy people’s life spans. What happens when cities build up 6-month waits for food? Most on the waiting list can’t shop; most can’t cook. Some neighbors help out. Some find enough money to get fast food. Many get sick or dizzy and end up in the emergency room, the hospital, and then a nursing home. All are hungry, and none thrive.