Thursday, March 19, 2009

‘March for Meals’ focuses on needs of seniors

Volunteers serve more than 400,000 hot meals each year

ASBURY PARK – Monmouth County Freeholder Amy A. Mallet joined Interfaith Neighbors at the Comstock Court Senior Housing Complex in Asbury park today to kick off the annual “March For Meals” effort by distributing hot meals to area senior citizens.

“March for Meals” is a month-long campaign that focuses attention on the thousands of senior citizens who, were it not for the partnerships Monmouth County has with Interfaith Neighbors, could wind up in unnecessary hospitalization or institutionalization. Many of them, but not all, are either disabled or homebound and unable to prepare their own meals, but they choose to live independently.

“March for Meals is a national campaign, in which Monmouth County is a participant,” Freeholder Mallet said. “It is aimed at raising awareness on the part of the local community about seniors who, perhaps, live alone and are in need of a hot meal. The county’s participation in the Meals on Wheels program is an example of how public and private partnerships can benefit people in need.

“Meals on Wheels helps not only the elderly, but also those who are homebound, disabled, frail or at risk,” Mallet continued. “It also improves their social, physical, nutritional, and economic well-being. It is important to remind everyone that there are people within our own communities who need help and rely on the assistance of others, even for a hot meal once a day.”

In addition to Comstock Court, meals were delivered to home-bound seniors throughout Monmouth County as well as to those who were able to get their meals at a number of senior centers.

Through this program, thousands of seniors and disabled persons in Monmouth County receive nutritional meals every day. For example, Interfaith Neighbors Inc., Asbury Park, serves nearly 63,000 meals each year to 1,900 seniors who come to 11 nutrition centers across Monmouth County to eat. In addition, Interfaith Neighbors’ volunteers deliver another 352,325 meals to some 1,850 senior citizens or disabled persons who cannot leave their homes.

“For many of these residents, this is the only hot meal they will eat each day,” Mallet said. “When you look at the broad scope of what we do here in Monmouth County, we’re serving a tremendous population. We want to get the word out – if there is anyone 60 or older or who is disabled and needs a meal, we can provide that for them.”

The “March on Meals” program is part of a larger, national campaign sponsored by the Meals on Wheels Association of America. Anyone in need of a hot meal who is 60 years old or is disabled is urged to contact the county’s Office on Aging at (732) 431-7450.

To make a donation to Interfaith Neighbors or to volunteer for the meals delivery program, please call (732) 775-5155, or visit their Web site at

The month of March was chosen to raise the awareness of the Meals on Wheels program because it was during this month that the law was enacted that included senior meal programs in the Older Americans Act.

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