OCO Launches March for Meals Campaign

FULTON, NY – The staff of Oswego County Opportunities’ Nutrition Services is asking Oswego County residents to join them in their annual March for Meals campaign.

Oswego County Opportunities volunteers work in OCO’s kitchen in Mexico preparing meals for OCO’s Meals on Wheels program and its Dining and Activity Centers. OCO is kicking off its annual March for Meals campaign, which in conjunction with Meals on Wheels America, works to raise the awareness of senior hunger in Oswego County and serves as a fundraiser to help support the agency’s Meals on Wheels program. Above from left are Sandy Dunn, Heather Clarridge and Nichole Hart.

OCO’s annual March for Meals campaign, in conjunction with Meals on Wheels America, works to raise the awareness of senior hunger in Oswego County and serves as a fundraiser to help support the agency’s Meals on Wheels program.

To celebrate their March for Meals Campaign, OCO Nutrition Services has planned the following community events:

· March 18 through March 22, Community Champions Week. To raise awareness and to encourage action at the local level, OCO invites elected officials, business leaders, and community members to participate. Community Champions are encouraged to show their support by raising awareness of OCO’s Meals on Wheels program, speaking out on behalf of seniors, delivering meals to homebound Meals On Wheels participants and / or preparing meals for delivery in OCO’s kitchen or helping to serve meals at one of OCO’s six Dining and Activity Centers.

· Meals on Wheels Collection Vans. Look for donation boxes shaped as delivery vans in local business throughout the month of March. All donations will be used to support Meals on Wheels and provide special events at OCO’s Dining and Activity Centers.

· Encouraging Volunteer Recruitment. Use your lunch break to help seniors in your neighborhood! OCO invites community members to experience the joy and satisfaction of delivering meals to homebound seniors or serving guests at one of OCO’s six activity and dining centers.

· Like them on Facebook. Visit the OCO Nutrition Services page on Facebook to find the latest information on OCO’s Meals on Wheels program and its Dining and Activity Centers. Click on the like button and help spread the word about OCO’s Nutrition Services.

The annual March for Meals campaign is led by Meals on Wheels America and gives the businesses, organizations, governments and volunteers who contribute so generously in their communities an opportunity to support homebound seniors in a variety of ways to make America stronger and healthier.

“The month of March is a fitting time to not only celebrate the successful history of Meals on Wheels, but also bring us together to support a solution that will strengthen communities into the future,” said president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America Ellis Hollander. “With 12,000 Americans turning 60 each day, now is the time to invest in these vital programs so that we can provide every senior in need with the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that will enable them to live healthier and independent in their own homes.”

According to Meals on Wheels America nearly one in six seniors struggles with hunger.

For millions of Americans, a program such as OCO’s Meals on Wheels is literally the difference between remaining in their own homes and needing to relocate to a nursing facility.

Research proves that when seniors have the right support, they gain greater quality of life, need fewer hospital stays and live longer.

“The food and human contact we provide to the seniors in our Meals on Wheels program is needed more than ever,” said Nutrition Services Program Coordinator Allison Griffin.

“A recent survey on our Meals On Wheels participants revealed some eye-opening statistics:

– 99% of participants said that the Meals On Wheels program has allowed them to continue living independently in their own home.

– 58% stated that their Meals on Wheels driver is the only visitor they have.

– 36% do not have the means to purchase the food they need to survive.”

OCO Nutrition Services does more than just deliver a nutritious meal; it’s a safety check and a welcome visit.

“For many of our participants the Meals on Wheels drivers are the only person that the homebound participants see for days at a time. They look forward to the conversations as much as they do the meals,” Griffin said. “In many ways our drivers serve as a lifeline to homebound and socially isolated seniors. Our Meals on Wheels program goes well beyond fighting the battle against hunger; it provides peace of mind that enables our participants to remain safe and secure in their own homes as they continue to age.”

The OCO’s Meals on Wheels program delivers more than 1,000 meals each day to homebound seniors.

There are no unserved areas in the county.

While the program does have some paid employee routes, it is the volunteers that are the driving force behind the Meals on Wheels program.

“We have 15 volunteer routes for our home delivered meals,” said Support Services Manager Christine Parks. “The assistance we receive from our volunteers is vital to the success our program. We couldn’t do it without them. If anyone is interested in volunteering to deliver meals or assist at one of our Dining and Activity Centers please call us at (315) 598-4712, we would love to hear from you.”

In addition to the Meals on Wheels program OCO Nutrition Services has six senior Dining and Activity Centers located Fulton, Hannibal, Mexico, Parish, Phoenix and Central Square.

The centers offer meals, fun activities and friendly conversations.

For more information on the March for Meals campaign and to learn how you can help put an end to senior hunger, contact Griffin at OCO Nutrition Services, 315-598-4712, ext. 1813 or via e-mail at [email protected]

OCO Nutrition Services programs are partially supported through grants from OCO partners: Oswego County Office for the Aging; New York State Office for the Aging; and the United Way of Greater Oswego, Inc.

Did you know? A private, non-profit agency, OCO’s many programs touch the lives of approximately 16,000 Oswego County residents each year.

One of Oswego County’s largest employers, OCO employs more than people and boasts a volunteer force of 1,200.

OCO strives to improve the quality of life in Oswego County by helping people, supporting communities and changing lives.

For more information, visit www.oco.org.

Now you know … It’s OCO!