Combating hunger in the Crossroads

By the Advocate Editorial Board
July 12, 2017 at 4:57 p.m.
Updated July 12, 2017 at 10:50 p.m.

Hundreds of senior citizens in the Crossroads rely on Meals on Wheels to survive.

These hot, nutritious meals, whether delivered to their homes or served at a congregate site, mean so much to our older community members. Many of these residents already struggle to make ends meet because many are on extremely limited fixed incomes. Meals on Wheels programs provided by the Community Action Committee of Victoria and the Victoria County Senior Citizens Association are lifelines not only by filling bellies but for showing compassion. And this is a goal that we as a community should continue to support.

The nation's senior population is projected to double by the year 2060. Are we prepared to care for them?

There's a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the federal budget, which pays for just more than one-third of the meals provided for our city's older residents.

Dan Williams-Capone, executive director of the senior citizens association, said because they are anticipating a cut in federal funding, local contributions will become even more important.

Aside from Title III funding through the Older Americans Act, the nonprofit also relies on generous support from the Victoria County United Way. Last year, meal program recipients contributed $44,000 in voluntary program service fees to the association. But there's still a funding gap that must be covered by individual contributions and fundraising sales.

Donations are crucial to meet the ongoing need, he said, as the association serves up to 265 meals each day.

The Community Action Committee serves another 250 meals a day, many of which are going to rural residents in Victoria, DeWitt and Goliad counties.

About 10 percent of senior citizens in the area live below the poverty line, and nearly 20 percent are considered at risk of hunger. Can you imagine having to choose between medications, utility bills and food each month because you are unable to work? Francis Gonzales was featured in a story Sunday that highlighted just how many of our older residents are making these kinds of choices. At the age of 59, she had to find a roommate or risk homelessness.

This is why investing in local services like Meals on Wheels is needed. This is how we help people meet their basic needs while improving their ability to become self-sufficient.

Local donors gave Community Action Committee $100,000 so that the nonprofit could give its cooks an up-to-date, renovated workspace. This is what giving back to our community looks like. But that's not the only way to give.

Visit the senior centers, at Murray and Halsey streets, at lunch time to break bread or check on your older neighbors.

Find a way to help those most in need.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.


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