Local not-for-profit organization Carefor participated in the annual March for Meals Week event from March 21-25, helping to mark the event’s 20th year. The event is run by the Ontario Community Support Association to increase awareness and community engagement about meal programs.
This year’s event was particularly important because of the recent increased need for meal delivery as food insecurity has increased, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many seniors already struggle to access food due to medical conditions and other factors, the pandemic caused isolation for many which made the problem worse, particularly those living in rural communities. This explains why Carefor experienced a surge in demand for meals at the beginning of the pandemic, which led to the organization doubling its meal production with the help of one-time funding and generous donations. However, this funding was temporary, while the demand for meals was not, and continues to grow.
For this reason, this year’s March for Meals campaign focused not only on increasing awareness but also on raising funds to contribute to the overall goal of maintaining and even expanding the Meal Delivery program in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry. Funds will support rising food costs associated with the program, as well as equipment upgrades to ensure maximum efficiency in meal production. Though the fee for clients is $7.00, the associated costs with producing, packaging, and delivering the meal are substantially more. The program currently delivers 510 meals per week, though 160 seniors remain on the waiting list.
March for Meals helps to spread awareness about these ongoing issues, and during this week, local public figures joined the effort by speaking out about the program, with some delivering meals themselves. Supporters have included Winchester Firefighter Terry Wagner, OPP Constable Shaver, OPP Constable MacPherson, and North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser. “The Meal Delivery program is a very important program in the rural communities. It’s a great way to get affordable nutritional meals to individuals who do not necessarily have access to those meals otherwise,” said OPP Constable Shaver.
Manager of the Carefor Meal Delivery program for the Eastern Counties, Dianne Kuipers, also weighed in, saying “The pandemic shone a spotlight on access barriers to food and the nutritional needs of older adults. The March for Meals campaign provides an opportunity on an annual basis to increase awareness about this situation. The meal program is so much more than just a meal. It provides a safety check and a friendly visit to many who live alone, and it provides a volunteer opportunity to many who want to give back to their community. The need is evident. Because of the continued demand, Carefor aspires to grow the program equitably across SD&G. Government funding and donations will help to achieve that goal.“
Anyone seeking more information on the Carefor Meal Delivery program offered in North Dundas can call (613) 774-6109.