Volunteers serve more than 400,000 hot meals each year

MIDDLETOWN, NJ – Monmouth County Freeholder Serena DiMaso joined Interfaith Neighbors at Luftman Pavilion and Luftman Towers in Lincroft yesterday to deliver meals to mark “March For Meals,” which aims to raise public awareness of the local Meals on Wheels program.

“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 the senior citizens are either disabled or homebound and unable to prepare their own meals, but they choose to live independently.

Freeholder Serena DiMaso (left) with Luftman Pavilion resident Alva Allen, 91, and Meals on Wheels volunteer Ed Stanley. 

“March for Meals is a national campaign, in which Monmouth County is a participant,” Freeholder DiMaso said. “It is aimed at raising awareness on the part of the local community about seniors who 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.

“Sometimes, a visit from a Meals on Wheels volunteer is the only social interaction our homebound seniors get on a daily basis,” Freeholder Director John P. Curley said. “It improves not only their social, physical, nutritional, and economic well-being, but provides a means to check on those seniors who are frail and may be at risk. It is important to remind everyone that there are people within our communities who need help and rely on the assistance of others, even for a hot meal once a day.”

In addition to the Luftman residences, 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 306,700 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,” DiMaso 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 has a disability 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 www.interfaithneighbors.org 

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.