"Operation Accelerate": Meals on Wheels Yolo County Keeps Nutrition Rolling
by Joy Cohan, Executive Director, May 2022
Thousands of seniors throughout Yolo County are food insecure, isolated, and struggling as pandemic threats to their well-being linger. So many await a knock at their door with a hot, healthy meal, a smile, and conversation with the inspired staff and volunteers of Meals on Wheels Yolo County (MOW Yolo). Often the MOW Yolo crew are the only friendly faces these aging residents will see all day.
Simultaneously, skyrocketing food and fuel costs are striking at the heart of MOW Yolo’s work to nourish the vulnerable senior citizens of our community. Expenses for ingredients and vehicle operations are running 40% over budget. Unlike many similar senior nutrition programs, MOW Yolo freshly prepares in our central kitchen the 9,000 meals currently delivered each month. Additionally, the organization is committed to making personal contact at the doorstep with each of the 450 aging adults served.
This spring and summer, expanding our service to the many rural communities and underserved neighborhoods of Yolo County – and doing so with an emphasis on equity, locally grown produce, and other fresh, nutritious ingredients – are the goals of MOW Yolo's "Operation Accelerate" initiative. Your generosity with funds and time extends the MOW Yolo impact by offsetting the extraordinary food and fuel expenses that threaten success.
Here’s a snapshot of the MOW Yolo accomplishments thus far in 2022, and what continued support will make possible:
• More choice: frozen vegetarian meals now are available upon request by seniors unable to enjoy the scheduled entrée for medical, cultural, or religious reasons. More menu variety is possible with increased support for the staff, space, and supplies.
• More nutrition: cooking with fresh ingredients, including local produce, cuts down on sodium, sugar, and other byproducts of processed foods that harm seniors’ health and contribute to chronic disease. Kitchen prep is time-consuming, however, requiring additional staff.
• More collaboration: we’re seeking to deepen partnerships with other nonprofits poised to assist with acquiring more fresh food more cost-effectively, as well as with those whose missions to serve seniors can benefit from the nourishment MOW Yolo can provide. Collaboration requires adaptation and re-invention, however, by a team equipped with an entrepreneurial spirit and donors inspired to support the process.
• More stability and efficiency: no MOW Yolo staff member now earns less than a $17.50/hour “living wage” for Yolo County, and competitive, market-rate compensation has been introduced for all other positions, encouraging dedicated employees to stay with the organization, and attracting new top talent to join the team. Embracing technology also encourages staff nimbleness, makes volunteer roles less burdensome, and elevates outcomes for the seniors dependent upon our services. These investments already are paying off, with 20% more seniors receiving meals countywide just since January. However, sustenance of these advancements is dependent upon community generosity.
So much uplift in just the first one-third of the year; consider what local, struggling seniors can experience nutritionally and socially the rest of this year with your support? They await your gifts of funds at www.mowyolo/donate, or time at www.mowyolo.org/volunteer-opportunities.
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